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caption: Tourists on Front Street in Coupville
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Tourists on Front Street in Coupville
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

This tiny Washington tourist town found its workforce after all

The town of Coupeville Washington, on Whidbey Island, has solved its labor shortage. That could be a promising sign for other communities with the same problem.

Earlier this month, we reported on how stores and restaurants in Coupeville couldn’t find enough workers. That prevented many businesses from reopening, even as tourists banged on their doors to get in.

RELATED: In tiny Coupeville, tourists have returned. Workers have not.

RELATED: What this Washington town learned from a job fair hardly anybody showed up to

Now, Coupeville’s restaurants and knick knack shops have filled most of their job openings, according to Vickie Chambers, who runs the local business association. But the workers they found are not the college students on summer break they usually hire.

“We have had a lot of folks that haven’t really worked, maybe semi-retired, maybe all the way retired, and perhaps from being so isolated, really wanted an opportunity to get out there and be around people,” Chambers said.

Washington State’s unemployment rate peaked at around 16% in April of last year. Since then unemployment has sunk to 5.3% and is still dropping.