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Jobless Rate Edges Up But November Total Was 31-Year Low For Month

November can be tough for job-seekers as seasonal workers are stricken from payrolls. But this November was an exception, with unemployment in Washington falling to its lowest level in more than 30 years, officials said Tuesday.

Washington’s strong economy continues to produce jobs, and “when you adjust for the seasonal layoffs, unemployment continues at 30-year lows,” Employment Security Commissioner Carver Gayton said.

The November jobless rate of 4.5 percent rose from October’s rate of 4.1 percent, but it was down two full percentage points from the 6.5 percent of the previous November, officials noted.

“Ongoing worker shortages in Clark County and in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett areas, in particular, lessoned the overall impact” of the normal seasonal drop-off of available jobs, Gayton added.

Seasonally adjusted, the state’s November rate was 4.2 percent, compared with a national rate of 4.6 percent.

Times weren’t good throughout Washington, though. Columbia County had a jobless rate of 15.4 percent. Whitman County, meanwhile, had the lowest at 1.6 percent.

Spokane’s unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent in November. That compares with a revised unemployment rate of 3.8 percent in October, and 5.6 percent in November 1996.

During November, 8,300 people did not have jobs in a Spokane work force of 209,500. In October, the number of unemployed was 7,900 in a work force of 207,400. For November a year ago, 11,300 were unemployed in a work force of 203,000.

Among employment highlights for the month, the department said:

Compared with a year ago, manufacturing employment was up by 22,400. About three quarters of the total came from gains in aircraft and parts.

Retailing employment jumped by 8,700 workers in stores revved up or the Christmas buying season. Public education added 4,600 workers.

The horizon wasn’t completely clear of black clouds.

The recent announcement by Boeing of planned cutbacks in the second half of next year signals an end to the two-year employment “up-cycle” in aircraft and parts, which has added 30,000 workers since December, 1995, said economist Dennis Fusco.

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

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