Unemployment numbers in North Coast counties as well as Oregon state increased slightly between January and February this year, according to the latest figures from the Oregon Employment Department.

In Clatsop County, February's unemployment rate was at 7.0 percent, a bit higher than January's rate of 6.8 percent but lower than the 8.2 unemployment rate from February 2004. Total employment decreased by 15 between January and February, but the 17,347 people employed is still 811 more than were employed last February.

Clatsop County has a lower rate than the state's average, which is at 7.5 percent, but has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the nation, which is at 5.8 percent.

In Columbia County, the unemployment rate went from 9.2 percent in January to 9.7 percent in February. In February 2004, the rate was at 10.9 percent. Even though the unemployment rate went up slightly between January and February, the total employment increased by 88 to 21,092; a sharper increase in the number of people in the labor force accounted for the difference.

The unemployment rate in Tillamook County was 7.8 percent in February, slightly higher than January's rate of 7.4 percent and slightly lower than the previous February's rate of 8.2 percent. Similarly to the situation in Columbia County, while the number of people employed increased by 38 between January and February, there were 55 additional unemployed people during that time span as well, so the unemployment rate went up a fraction.

Oregon's unemployment rate, after it is adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations, was at 6.6 percent in February, up slightly from a rate of 6.3 percent in January but down from a rate of 7.7 percent in February 2004. The statewide labor force reached a record high of 1,866,849 people, according to employment department economist David Cooke, and while employment increased by almost 10,000, the number of unemployed people increased by almost 5,000.