Unemployment rates in the tri-county area continue to be among the highest in the state — with Stevens County notching at a 9.3 percent rate, which is just behind Ferry County’s 10.8 percent for the top spot in Washington. This comes from Washington’s Employment Security Department’s unemployment rate for the month of April.
Pend Oreille County has an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, and the three counties in northeastern Washington are the only ones with rates above nine percent other than Pacific County on the west side which had an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.
Employment estimates are generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses.
Stevens County is just one of four counties in the state with unemployment over nine percent. The unemployment rates correspond with some of lowest population growth numbers in the state from last year — with all three counties in northeast Washington adding 210 people total.
The state of Washington has an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, which is above the national average of five percent despite adding 11,200 jobs from March to April.
Last year, according to Washington State Forecasting and Research Division, the population grew by 93,240 residents to the state. Stevens County experienced the largest amount of population growth in the past year in the tri-country area – increasing by 130 people compared to Ferry’s 50 and Pend Oreille’s 30.
The vast majority of Stevens County lives outside of incorporated towns. Of the 44,030 residents that are estimated to live within county lines in 2015, 34,300 live in unincorporated areas. Only 9,730 live within city limits, with Colville being the largest town with 4,705 people and Chewelah being the second-biggest with 2,650 people.
Spokane County added 3,810 people in the past year, while King County added 35,550 people.
By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff