WENATCHEE — Tourism and health care combined in January to produce 1,000 new jobs, year over year, in Chelan and Douglas counties and help launch 2017 with a wallop to unemployment.
January’s jobless rate in the two-county area hit 8 percent, a 0.5 percent decline from 8.5 percent in January 2016. The decrease was fed by a swelling civilian labor force and a shrinking number of unemployed.
“This is an encouraging economic sign for the first month of 2017,” said state Regional Labor Economist Don Meseck, noting that January marked the third straight month of declining unemployment rates for the area.
The state Employment Security Department released county job numbers Monday.
In January, tourism jobs in Chelan and Douglas counties rose 8.3 percent over the same month last year, while health care jobs climbed 7.2 percent. It was the 40th straight month of job increases for both those sectors.
Private services, mostly a business-to-business service sector, showed a 2.1 percent gain (600 jobs) for the month. The sector includes tax prep services that likely added jobs for the upcoming tax season, and temporary employment agencies bolstered by hiring for mid-winter pruning of area orchards.
Manufacturing continued to show a 4 percent decline (100 jobs) as a result of layoffs at Alcoa Wenatchee Works in January 2016.
Chelan and Douglas counties January 2016: 8.5 percent
Chelan and Douglas counties January 2017: 8 percent
Statewide January 2017: 5.1 percent
Nationwide January 2017: 4.8 percent
Tourism up 8.3 percent (500 jobs)
Health care up 7.2 percent (500 jobs)
Construction up 4.8 percent (100 jobs)
Private services providing up 2.1 percent (600 jobs)
Federal government down 12.5 percent (100 jobs)
Manufacturing down 4 percent (100 jobs)
Retail trade flat with no change from January 2016