Cowlitz County’s unemployment rate dropped nearly a full percentage point in August, but state officials say that doesn’t mean that the labor picture is brightening in any way. Regional Economist Scott Bailey reports that the August jobless rate in Cowlitz County came in at 9.5 percent, down from the July rate of 10.4 percent. However, as has been the case for several months, the reduction is due almost entirely to people dropping out of the labor market, rather than any increase in the number of jobs. Cowlitz County lost 500 jobs over the past month, with 300 coming from seasonal layoffs in public education. Compared to last year at the same time, Cowlitz County has 200 fewer construction jobs and 800 fewer service sector jobs. Cowlitz County continues to trail the state quite badly in the number of job losses; while Washington State and the rest of the US are trending upward, Cowlitz County is continuing a downward trend. Statewide, the August unemployment rate came in at 6.8 percent, compared to 8.1 percent in August of last year.