Stevens County unemployment dips in June

Jim Angell
Staff Writer

The number of unemployed people in Stevens County fell by more than 10 percent between May and June, due largely to seasonal employment gains among federal firefighting agencies and resulting increases in the leisure and hospitality sectors.
The Washington Employment Security Division, in its monthly unemployment figures, reported Stevens County’s unemployment rate in June was 6.2 percent, reflecting the fact that 1,120 people submitted requests for unemployment benefits.
That is a decline of 130 people, 10.4 percent, from May’s figures, when 1,250 members of the county’s workforce were unemployed — 6.9 percent.
Doug Tweedy, an economist with the Employment Security Division, said such gains are common in northern Washington in the summer months.
“We see that every June,” he said. “That has a lot to do with the federal government and fire season.”
Tweedy said as firefighters are brought to northern Wyoming to be on hand in case of fires, they also generate more business in the leisure and hospitality industries. boosting employment in those sectors.
However, the county’s unemployment rate in June was still far above the state’s average of 4 percent and in fact was one of three counties with the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the state.
Topping the state’s unemployment rate was Ferry County with 10.3 percent. Gray’s Harbor and Mason counties also had an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent.
State statistics show Stevens County’s unemployment rate is usually above the state’s average. Tweedy said the higher numbers are caused primarily by the cyclical nature of the county’s three top industries: mining, agriculture and timber