San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce
Labor Force and Unemployment

County Outlook

On an annual average basis, from 2008 to 2010, Washington state and the United States each lost an estimated 5% of their respective employment bases. San Juan County lost about 11% of total non-farm jobs from 2008 to 2011. In short, employment losses sere deeper and the downfall was longer than for either the nation or the state. The recovery has also been slow and tentative. After reaching an employment low, jobs began to rebound in 2012 and then suffered another short-term setback in 2013, primarily a loss of government jobs. Annual average employment in 2014 was 5,420, 1.7% higher than observed in  2013. This is still 9%below pre-recession levels and close to the levels of employment observed 2003 and 2004.

Labor Force and Unemployment 

The dynamics of the labor force in San Juan County are very seasonal, with peak unemployment rates occurring each year in the winter months and lowest unemployment rates reported each summer during the peak tourism season. The divergence between annual high and low unemployment rates increased during the recession. 

During the recent period of recession and recovery, the peak unemployment rate (9.9%) was reached in January 2010. The hightest average annual unemployment rate was 7.3%that same pear. By 2014, the average annual unemployment rate fell to 5.2%. The unemployment rate in July 2015 (preliminary ) was 3.9%.

San Juan County's labor force follows the same seasonal trend described above, In a highly seasonal tourism-driven economy, the labor force swells during the summer months and contracts during off-peak seasons, The labor force expanded by 1,530 from a winter low of 7,128 in December 2013 to 8,661 in August 2014. To date, the peak in the labor force for 2015 was observed in July (8,438).

The average annual labor force in 2014 was 7,657. Within this estimate, 7,258 people were employed and 399 were actively looking for work.