Data shows Island County’s economy is strong

A consistent decrease in the unemployment rate suggests that Island County has emerged from the Great Recession with a steadily growing economy, according to an economist with the state Employment Security Department.

“It took a while because this particular recession was so long and so deep,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist.

In a report released this week, the Employment Security Department states that the preliminary unemployment rate for December, not seasonally adjusted, was 5.5 percent. The preliminary average for 2017 was 5.1 percent.

In comparison, Skagit’s rate for December was 5.8 percent, Whatcom’s rate was 5 percent and Snohomish’s rate was 4 percent. King County’s rate was lowest in the state at 3.6 percent.

Island County’s unemployment rate for December was up from 4.7 percent in November, but Vance-Sherman said that’s to be expected for the time of year.

She said the rate will probably be even higher for January.

Anecdotally, the South Whidbey economy seems to be doing well. Inge Morascini, executive director of the Langley Chamber, said “the general economy in Langley is very good, with sales up seemingly across the our membership.”

Broadly speaking, Vance-Sherman said, the recession ran from 2008 to 2010. She said there was a strong rural-urban divide in the recovery, with rural regions taking longer to emerge from the recession.

“The smaller the county, the longer it lagged behind, relative to the Seattle area,” she said.

The unemployment rate peaked in Island County at a yearly average of 9.3 percent in 2010 and slowly but steadily decreased in the ensuing years. In terms of jobs, the county just returned to pre-recession numbers, Vance-Sherman said.

According to Vance-Sherman, the recovery is very broad-based and has “some substance to it.” The highest level of job growth occurred in the “professional business services” and “leisure / hospitality” sectors.

In 2017, the labor force in the county increased by 848 people, or 2.5 percent. The number of jobs increased by 560, which is a 3.4 percent increase.

“That’s good. That’s very good,” she said, noting that the state average hovers around 3 percent.

More in News

Roll the dice for charity at bunco event

Guild 21 of Providence General Children’s Association is hosting its 14th annual… Continue reading

Community weaves together fundraiser after fiber theft

In late February, Lydia Christiansen and her husband Alan woke up to… Continue reading

Navy extends comment period on special ops training

The area where the Navy conducts special operations training may be expanded… Continue reading

State Parks offer two free pass days in April

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to celebrate… Continue reading

Photo by Drew Kampion
                                Buell Neidlinger played the cello on Whidbey Island in recent years, but he was famous for his bass playing. He passed away March 16.
Neidlinger remembered as world-class musician

With a long beard and strong opinions, Buell Neidlinger was a well-known… Continue reading

Students speak out on school violence

‘They are leading by example’

Backlog of repairs needed at WhidbeyHealth

Officials explain need for $20 million federal loan

New shuttle for whale watchers

Van replaces chug-chugging cart

School violence topic of public forum

Students to lead discussion at WICA talk

Most Read