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Number of jobless workers rises slightly in Spokane County

An influx of jobless workers from nearby areas pushed Spokane County’s unemployment rate up slightly to 6.4 percent in November, according to state jobless numbers.

The month before, Spokane County’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent.

Most of the increase in November jobless reports comes from workers who’ve lost jobs in North Idaho and Eastern Washington looking for jobs in Spokane County, said Doug Tweedy, regional labor economist for the state’s Employment Security Department.

Another factor in November’s jobless numbers was the continuing Boeing machinists strike causing disruptions to workers at the Triumph Composites manufacturing plant on the West Plains, he said.

Spokane County’s total of employed workers grew in November by almost 2,700 jobs, the data show. But the number of unemployed workers here soared even higher, from 13,520 a month ago to 15,540 in November, Tweedy said.

Washington state’s November jobless rate is 6.4 percent, up from 6.3 percent in October. Those numbers are adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. Spokane County’s jobless numbers are not adjusted, he said.

Kootenai County’s November jobless rate also jumped, to 6.9 percent from its October rate of 5.9 percent, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. Idaho’s November statewide jobless rate was 5.8 percent, up from 5.3 percent one month earlier.

In Spokane, the industries with the largest gains were retail trade (up 600 from October) and government (up 400), Tweedy said. The gains in retail are expected, due to stores hiring holiday staff.

The government gain, he added, is likely additions to jobs by tribal casinos, which are counted in the local government category.

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