State Jobless Rate Drops To 6.6% Springtime Activities Increase Employment In Several Sectors

Washington unemployment fell to 6.6 percent in March, the lowest rate in three months, officials said Tuesday.

Springtime activity in agriculture, construction, services and trade triggered the drop, the state Department of Employment Security said.

A growing number of Spokane County’s work force also found jobs, lowering the March unemployment rate to 6 percent from 6.6 percent a month earlier. The rate was 5.9 percent a year ago.

Idaho officials earlier this month reported a March unemployment rate of 7.2 percent in the Panhandle, down from 8.5 percent in February. Kootenai County’s rate was 6.5 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Washington for March was 5.9 percent, compared with 6.7 percent a year ago, the department said.

The national rate was 5.5 percent.

Ferry and Pend Oreille, timberdependent counties in northeastern Washington, reported the worst unemployment at 17.9 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

The lowest rate was 2.5 percent in Whitman County.

In Spokane County, 11,700 people were looking for work in March, compared with 12,800 a month earlier. There were 183,700 working people in March.

Fred Walsh, Spokane labor market analyst, said the biggest growth in Spokane County jobs occurred in construction, up 400; manufacturing, up 400; and services, up 600.

“Good weather industries are picking up,” he said.

During the past 12 months, retail trade and businesses services were the biggest gainers in Spokane County, each adding 1,000 jobs. Manufacturing was up 900.

Statewide, non-farm employment jumped by 14,500 workers in March. Construction jobs increased by 3,100; wholesale and retail trade, 2,600; services, 6,800.

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