The Spokane area’s unemployed inched up in July as schools let out and laid off some staff, the state reported this morning.
The unemployment rate for the area that includes Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties was estimated at 6.6 percent last month, up slightly from 6.4 percent in June, but less than the 7 percent rate a year ago.
The main factor was seasonal, regional economist Doug Tweedy said. When local schools and colleges let out in May and June, they lay off many of their support staff for a few months. The department estimates that resulted in some 3,700 job losses in state and local government, where those workers are counted.
“We expect all the education jobs to come back in September,” Tweedy said.
More important, Tweedy said, was a net growth of some 600 private sector jobs in July compared to June, which was up some 5,600 above July 2014. The three-county area increased jobs in construction, manufacturing and services over the last year. Financial activities, which include real estate, have grown as the market has picked up, as have professional services for legal and accounting jobs.
The latest estimates puts what’s known as the Spokane-Spokane Valley Metropolitan Statistical Area more than a full percentage point behind the state average of 5.4 percent, and 2.5 points behind the area that includes Seattle, Bellevue and Everett.
But Tweedy said growth in the Spokane area is diverse across many sectors.
“We’ve laid a good foundation for future growth,” he said.