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Aerospace Gains Fuel Job Growth Washington Unemployment Rate Fell To 5.7 Percent Last Month


The strongest month-to-month aerospace job gains in seven years helped drop Washington’s unemployment rate by three-tenths of a percentage point to 5.7 percent in June, the Employment Security Department reported Tuesday. The 1,200 new jobs in aircraft and parts was part of a broader 4,600-job gain in manufacturing.

“Normal seasonal increases in lumber and wood products and food processing, as well as 400 new jobs in machinery and electronics and the boost in aerospace gave us our highest May-to-June manufacturing growth during the nineties,” said Commissioner Gary Moore. “The increase in aerospace came as Boeing proceeded to build capacity to meet higher production requirements.”

The June rate dropped from a revised 6.0 percent level in May. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the state’s jobless rate fell from a revised 6.2 percent in May to 6.0 percent in June, the second monthly decline in a row and decisively below the 6.4 percent average in the fourth quarter. The comparable national rate fell from 5.6 percent to 5.3 percent.

“Overall, the state’s economy turned in a very strong showing,” said Employment Security’s chief economist, Dennis Fusco.

Spokane’s unemployment rate for June was 4.8 percent, down from May’s revised rate of 5 percent. In a work force of 200,800, 9,700 Spokane residents were unemployed in June. Spokane’s June, 1995 unemployment rate was slightly higher at 5 percent.

The May-June increase in employment was weaker this year than last, according to Fred Walsh, Employment Security’s regional labor economist for the Spokane area.

Likewise, the improvement of June 1996 over June 1995 was weaker than in the previous two years.

Typical of the May-June transition, manufacturing and services were weak. But, Walsh said, June construction hiring was up 7.4 percent over May, twice the May-June increase of the past two years. He attributed the jump to “making up for bad weather” that delayed construction activities in May.

Statewide, total non-farm wage and salary employment increased by 27,200. Construction advanced by 4,700 workers - about the same as last year despite higher mortgage rates. Wholesale and retail trade increased by 8,800. Services jumped by 5,600 as the state’s tourist season shifted into high gear. Business services added 2,100 workers.

Compared to a year ago, services employment in the state was up 28,700 in June with big gains centered in business services (+15,400), social services (+3,500), and health care (+4,900). Wholesale and retail trade increased by 8,100.

The basic goods-producing sector has been a mix of trends over the year with losses in aircraft and parts (-1,900) countered by gains in construction (+1,500) and other manufacturing (+1,100). Total non-farm wage and salary employment adjusted in collaboration with the Office of the Forecast Council was up 55,000 in June.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: County-by-county monthly unemployment rates

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