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Partial reopening boosts jobs in Clark County

Clark County gained about 5,800 jobs in June, thanks to the county’s partial reopening at the beginning of the month.

The county’s unemployment rate was 10.2 percent by the end of July — down from a revised 14.6 percent in May, according to the Washington Employment Security Department.

Southwest Washington regional economist Scott Bailey said unemployment insurance claims numbers were better last month, so he expected things to get better in June.

“I wasn’t surprised,” he said.

Bailey said the claims data are subject to change, and they’re the only metrics being used to estimate the unemployment rate until the state gets tax returns from employers in roughly three months.

All major industry sectors reported added jobs.

Health care gained 900 jobs last month, according to the data. Trade, transportation and utilities also gained 900 jobs, with almost half of those in retail.

Construction gained 700 jobs, while professional and business services gained 600 jobs. Manufacturing gained 500 jobs, as did leisure and hospitality.

The gains “coincided with a group of industries most affected by state health regulations and consumers,” Bailey said. “How those were the industries that were initially hardest hit, we have seen some bounceback.”

Bailey said that claims data in July points toward this month seeing another improvement in the local job economy.

“But with cases spiking all over, including Clark County, all bets are off for August,” he said. “We’ll know more as things unroll.”

Another factor for August is the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program that gives a $600 federal add-on to unemployment compensation.

“In August, if FPUC is not renewed in some way, that’s going to be a hit,” he said.

In April, May and June, Clark County residents were paid $309 million in benefits, 62 percent of which ($193 million) was through the program.

“We already have long lines at food pantries and many households struggling to pay rent,” he said. “Losing this income stream could push many families over the edge, as well as impacting local businesses, including landlords, which would see a substantial drop in demand.”

Bailey said that in many ways, Clark County is “in line” with the national and state trends for unemployment rates and job market statistics.

Washington’s economy saw a return of 71,000 jobs last month, lowering the unemployment rate from 15.1 percent to 9.8 percent.


Source: https://www.columbian.com

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