Whitman County unemployment rates rise three percent

County unemployment rate rises to 6.6 percent in April



Whitman County unemployment rates have risen 3 percent. State unemployment rates for Washington state have risen from 5.1 percent in March to 15.4 percent in April this year.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

Due to COVID-19, Whitman County unemployment rates increased by 3 percent from March to April this year. 

Doug Tweedy, regional economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department, said Whitman County’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in March and 6.6 percent in April. 

Tweedy said Whitman County is one of the least impacted counties in the state and is also one of the only counties that has not hit record unemployment.  

There is a relatively low rate of unemployment in Whitman County because the people who work at WSU have stable jobs and the university dominates the area, said Paul Turek, state economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Turek said the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in March and 15.4 percent in April.

This has been the highest unemployment rate for Washington state, based on official records, Turek said.  

The seasonal adjustment rate corrects predictable things over the course of a year, such as holidays, weather patterns and the school year, which can raise or lower employment rates, he said. Similar to how it can be predicted that ice cream sales will rise every summer, common events that affect employment throughout the year can also be predicted. 

Turek said the seasonal adjustment rate allows for accurate data about what is happening. 

The Whitman County unemployment rate is not seasonally adjusted because it is not a large enough number to work with while remaining statistically reliable, Turek said. 

Unemployment rates have been directly impacted by COVID-19, he said. This is because most businesses have closed, so more people are unemployed. 

“Just about every industry was affected,” Tweedy said.