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@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

A King County Sheriff’s Office photo of the crawlspace in which Urbano Velazquez was hiding when a K-9 unit was used. Sound Publishing file photo
King County settles $2 million dog bite lawsuit

The county agreed to pay $100,000 after being sued after a 2016 K-9 unit arrest.

Contributed by the Society for Conservation Biology 
A map showing the locations where plants have gone extinct in the U.S. and Canada since European settlers arrived.
Study: 65 plant species have gone extinct in U.S., Canada

More than 65 species of plants have gone extinct in the U.S.… Continue reading

Police Chief Ed VanValey gives a speech at his swearing in. Photo by Ava Van, City of Renton.
Renton police chief to take over as interim city CAO

Ed VanValey became police chief in 2018 after serving since 1998. Now he will take one of the highest administrative roles within the city, and the deputy chief will take over the police department.

Opening night of Clam Lights, Dec. 6, 2019 at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. File photo/Haley Ausbun
No Clam Lights as city plans smaller lighting displays at Coulon, downtown

The city was facing both COVID-19 health concerns and financial restraints, but will still be able to provide some holiday lighting cheer

Long time board member Pam Teal with a child at Meadow Crest Early Learning Center, 2018. Courtesy photo.
Director Pam Teal announces RSD board departure, district looking to fill vacancy

Renton School Board Director Pam Teal has served on the board since 2009

city of renton city hall
Renton proposes six month deadline to remove hundreds staying at Red Lion Inn COVID-19 shelter

As a result of the fight over the county’s de-intensification shelter, which provides housing for homeless people during the COVID-19 pandemic and caused an increase in public safety services in the spring, Renton is introducing code to create stricter guidelines for all homeless shelters

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.

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.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. August 2018, when several district unions, including Renton Education Association, bargained for new salaries in response to the McCleary decision.
Renton teachers union files labor complaint against district

The REA claims district is failing to address health and safety guidelines; district says it continues to work with unions to provide safe and healthy environment

Crime web teaser.
Renton man stabs, kills 11-year-old brother

The man chased his brother down the street in broad daylight, attacked him on the sidewalk.

Screenshot
All King County charter amendments are passing

Voters are approving an appointed sheriff along with other measures.

Congressman Adam Smith. Courtesy photo
Incumbent Adam Smith winning 9th Congressional District seat

Smith (D) received 76% of votes; opponent Doug Basler (R) behind with 23% of votes.