The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics came out today with the official snapshot of how the Puget Sound region’s unemployment rates stood in December. King County was lowest at 4.7 percent, a number that in normal times would be considered close to “full employment” by economists. Mason County, on the southwest edge of Puget Sound, posted the highest, at 9 percent.
Below is the breakout by county:
Now the obligatory caveat: Unlike other post-World War II recoveries, a falling unemployment rate does not necessarily mean employment is rising, jobs are available and the labor market is healthy. Nationally, we know that nearly three job-seekers are chasing every available position. Large numbers of workers have dropped out of actively seeking employment, and this measure doesn’t count those with part-time jobs who want full-time work. Wages have also been stagnant or falling for most.
It is telling that five counties near prosperous Seattle have unemployment rates higher than the national.