The Cowlitz County employment market continues to languish, rising to 9 percent in October, up from 8.7 percent in September. The Employment Security Department says that Cowlitz County had 35,400 jobs in October, which is 400 fewer at the same time last year. The county did pick up 600 jobs in the last two months, mostly connected to the beginning of the new school year. The rate of 9 percent is nearly a full point lower than last year, but Regional Economist Scott Bailey says that the drop is due almost entirely to people dropping out of the job market, rather than any improvement in the local economy. Bailey says that the local labor force has fallen by nearly 5 percent in the past year, a total of 2,100 people. Bailey says that there is good news as the initial unemployment claims to trend downward, but there are no new jobs being generated at this time.