April 16, 2008 in Business

In brief: County’s jobless rate drops to 6.1 percent

The Spokesman-Review
 

The unemployment rate in Spokane County dropped in March as the health care, hospitality, and wholesale and retail trade industries continued to add workers.

Figures from the Washington State Employment Security Department show a March rate of 6.1 percent, down from 6.4 percent in February.

Although the rate was higher than the 4.8 percent of last March, the economy has added 2,100 jobs in the last year, noted Doug Tweedy, labor economist for the Spokane area.

The unadjusted rate for all of Washington was 5.3 percent, unchanged from February.

Tweedy attributed the local gain in retail jobs, which declined in the state, to the rebound in agriculture.

High crop prices put more income in farmer pockets, and some of that is being spent in Spokane, he said.

“The region as a whole is doing well,” he said.

Statistics for neighboring counties bear him out: Only Ferry County reported a lower job total for March compared with February, 2,640 versus 2,650. Adams County added 280 jobs, Lincoln 120, Pend Oreille 10, Stevens 160, and Whitman 160.

Statewide, Washington added almost 18,000 month over month, more than 57,000 in the last year.

Bert Caldwell

LIBERTY LAKE

Itron names Unsworth president and COO

Itron Inc. Senior Vice President Malcolm Unsworth has been named president and chief operating officer of the electricity meter supplier.

With the announcement Tuesday, the 58-year-old Unsworth reports to Itron Chairman LeRoy Nosbaum.

He is taking charge of both parts of the Liberty Lake-based company, Itron North America and Actaris, a European metering company acquired a year ago.

He was previously COO of Actaris after serving as Itron senior vice president for hardware solutions.

Unsworth spent 25 years at Schlumberger Electric Metering and was president when Itron acquired that company in July 2004.

He is being succeeded at Arctaris by Marcel Regnier, who has been with the European company since it was formed in 2001.

Associated Press

Kootenai county

Home sales fall 21 percent, prices show slight declines

Kootenai County home sales from October through March dropped 21 percent from the same period a year earlier, while prices saw modest declines, according to Coeur d’Alene Multiple Listing Service data released Tuesday.

The MLS recorded 655 sales of site-built homes on lots smaller than an acre, compared with 828 during the same six-month period in 2006-07. The average price fell 2.5 percent, to $235,772, while the median price decreased 4.6 percent, to $196,500.

Kim Cooper, spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors, noted while volume is nearing 2002 levels, average sales prices remain larger than those in 2005, the year that saw the most sales.

Asking and closing prices also have come more into line, he said.

For all residential listings across the MLS area, 1,238 properties sold, a 17 percent decrease.

Total volume dropped 17.6 percent, to about $328.2 million.

About 6,180 properties were on the market at the end of March, compared with 5,755 a year ago.

Parker Howell


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