Cowlitz County’s unemployment situation continues to plod along, but state officials say that there could be a glimmer of hope down the line. The Employment Security Department reports that the December jobless rate in Cowlitz County was little-changed from November, ticking up slightly from 9 percent to 9.2 percent. Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that the county has lost 500 jobs in the last year, with most of those losses coming in January of last year. Bailey says that employment has been fairly stable since then. He notes that both employment and unemployment have both declined, with more people dropping out of the labor force. Initial and continuing unemployment claims rose slightly in December, and nearly 500 Cowlitz County residents got their last month of extended benefits in December of last year. Bailey says that there are some encouraging signs, pointing to the Regal Cinema project at the Three Rivers Mall, along with the announcement that Sportsman’s Warehouse is going into the old Emporium space. He also says that the Northwest Innovation Works ethanol plant would be a huge boost to the local employment picture, if it comes to pass.