OLYMPIA, Wa.-Okanogan County’s labor market appears to be stuck in a rut. The latest numbers from the Washington State Employment Security Department bear that out. Central Washington’s Regional Economist, Don Meseck says the County’s nonfarm labor market did not fare well in 2017.
Okanogan County’s unemployment rate increased three-tenths of a percentage point between 2016 and 2017, from 6.6 to 6.9 percent. Between the Februaries of 2017 and 2018 the rate stagnated at 9.8 percent. Why? Meseck says the civilian labor force shrank 5.0 percent between February 2017 and 2018 while the number of unemployed contracted at a roughly comparable 4.6 pace causing the local unemployment rate to stabilize at 9.8 percent during this timeframe. He adds the local economy is off to a weak start in the first two months of 2018.