Cowlitz County’s jobless rate ticked back into double digits in December, hitting 10.6 percent, the state’s Employment Security Department reported Wednesday.
Last month, early estimates indicated that Cowlitz County hit a milestone in November when jobless rate fell to 9.9 percent, the first single-digit rate in four years. On Wednesday, economists revised that figure up to 10 percent, but they say Cowlitz County is continuing its slow recovery.
Last month’s unemployment rate was nearly a full percentage point below the December 2011 rate of 11.4 percent, Employment Security reported. Total employment at 35,400 jobs was up by 100 jobs over the year, with noticeable gains in construction and leisure and hospitality sectors, Employment Security reported.
Scott Bailey, the state’s southwest regional economist, said Cowlitz County’s labor market is steadily improving, even though it sometimes hits dips from month to month.
“Cowlitz County’s slow recovery continued in December, with the emphasis on ‘slow,’ ” Bailey wrote in his monthly report.
In addition to slight employment gains, consumers here are starting to spend again, Bailey said. Total taxable retail sales in Cowlitz County last year were 23 percent higher than in 2011, with huge gains in auto sales and more modest improvements in general merchandise and restaurants and lodging, according to Employment Security.
Elsewhere in Southwest Washington, unemployment:
• Rose to 12.2 percent in Wahkiakum County, up from 11.3 percent in November and 12 percent in December 2011.
• Increased to 11.8 percent in Pacific County, up from 10.7 percent in November but down slightly from 11.9 percent in December 2011.
• Grew to 8.4 percent in Clark County, up from 8.1 percent in November but down from 9.3 percent in December 2011.