King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

Countywide unemployment numbers for September continue to paint a bleak picture of the state of the economy as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll.

A summary was released Oct. 20 by the Washington State Employment Security Department, summarizing last month’s figures.

Across King County this September, non-seasonally adjusted unemployment dropped slightly to reach 7%. But it’s more than twice the rate of unemployment seen in September 2019, which reached 2.8%.

Six major industries in the report expanded the number of jobs they offered this September, but five other industries reported lost jobs. The largest one-month gains were in leisure and hospitality — an industry hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions — and government and construction. The largest losses came from retail trade.

The labor force in King County was slightly more than 1.281 million workers last month, with just under 1.92 employed.

However, the county is doing marginally better than the statewide unemployment rate, which sat at 7.4%. Washington’s unemployment rate was expected to increase to 7.7% in 2021, and drop to 6% in 2022.

And the report’s author, Regional Labor Economist Anneliese Sherman, said she expects to see even more unemployment claims filed through December.

“Based on the usual seasonal rhythms, I do expect unemployment insurance claims to climb over the next several weeks until the end of the year,” she said.

Compounding this is Boeing’s recent announcement that it will be shifting production of the 787 airliner from Everett to North Carolina in 2021.

While the most acute effects of this decision will be felt in Everett and Snohomish County, Sherman said, it’s likely a ripple effect will hit King County and surrounding areas, as companies that contract with Boeing are forced to either find new customers or try and supply parts to North Carolina.

“There’s going to be a lot of indirect impact on the local economy,” Sherman said. “And in Snohomish County, we tend to feel that every time there is a major shift in manufacturing from Boeing, you do see it in other industries throughout the region.”

In King County, travel and leisure jobs have been hit hard, especially related to air travel. Some 4,900 air transportation jobs, nearly one-third of the total number, have disappeared in the last 12 months, the report states.

Some other takeaways from the report include:

• Net employment in retail trade decreased by 900 over the month, but managed to expand by an estimated 1,300 over the year.

• Motor vehicle and parts dealers were up 200 jobs over the year, and general merchandise stores were down 2,900.

• Food and beverage stores, considered essential businesses, expanded employment by 900 over the year.

• Scientific, technical services added 6,000 jobs year over year.

• Government employers collectively added 1,800 jobs over the month, but shed an estimated 4,800 jobs over the year. The largest 12 month losses were from local government, including public schools. The largest gains were from federal employment related to the census.

Sherman said that King County is likely in a better position to eventually make an economic rebound. It has a larger and more diverse economy.

A press release from King County Executive Dow Constantine on Oct. 21 touts the county’s AAA bond rating, which is the highest possible. It was recently reaffirmed, allowing the county to finance construction, open space acquisition and other projects at the lowest possible costs. It is the only county in the state to receive this rating from all three major rating agencies.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

Flaming Geyser is one of the several state parks in proximity to the Plateau that you can visit for free on Jan. 1 and 18. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks
Free Park Days in 2021 start in January

The first free days are Jan. 1 and 18.

After a relatively quiet October, Enumclaw's November COVID cases are quickly rising. Screenshot courtesy King County
COVID cases on the rise

Enumclaw has topped more than 250 positive cases, many of them just from November alone.

In addition to traveling through Enumclaw and Buckley, Santa will also be at the Enumclaw Expo Center's Hometown Holiday Parade Dec. 4 - 6, in place of being a part of the normal Enumclaw holiday parade. File photo
Santa to visit Buckley, Enumclaw neighborhoods

Make sure you know when Old Saint Nick is traveling through your area Dec. 7 - 12.

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org
Buckley budget includes money for streets, recreation projects

Residents can look forward to work being done on River Avenue and a new athletic court.

Enumclaw's decision making tree
ESD students will not return until January

Many teachers and parents saw flaws in the plan for students to return to school after Thanksgiving, just to have them go on winter holiday a few weeks later.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

The Courier-Herald is moving to a paid-subscription model. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Nov. 25 is the last free edition of the Courier-Herald

When you subscribe to a newspaper, you’re not just receiving a product, but investing in an idea.

One of the highlights of Holiday Fantasy has been outright donations to a worthy cause. Here, attendees show their support during the 2018 event. This year, the event will be holding a virtual auction over four days. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Holiday Fantasy goes virtual, offers four days of silent auction

The annual Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation fundraiser helps fund nearly a third of the non-profits various programs, from feeding seniors to arranging transport to medical appointments.

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Most Read