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In brief: Unemployment rate slipped in April

Wed., May 14, 2008

The unemployment rate in Spokane County fell 1 percentage point in April to 5.1 percent, but Regional Labor Economist Doug Tweedy on Tuesday said the month has seldom been a good measure of long-term job trends.

According to statistics from the Washington Employment Security Department, the county lost 70 jobs from March to April, taking the total for April to 225,000.

But the number of unemployed fell by more than 2,300.

Meanwhile, the work force declined by almost 2,500.

“What was striking was the number of unemployed dropped,” said Tweedy, adding that the dip in Spokane County employment was the first this year.

Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent, 4.7 percent if seasonally adjusted. The March rate was 5.2 percent.

– Bert Caldwell


Tableware creator served EWU honor

Irv Zakheim, founder and president of Zak Designs, Tuesday was named Eastern Washington University’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

Zak Designs makes tableware and dinnerware, much of it with designs licensed from movie studios, including Disney and Warner Brothers.

Since moving the business to Spokane in April 1992, sales have grown from $5 million to more than $100 million.

He employs 200 in Spokane and 250 in offices in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Asia and Europe.

Zak Designs also sponsors the Zak Celebrity Open, a golf tournament that has raised more than $1.5 million for the Rypien Foundation and YWCA.

Zakheim is the 15th recipient of the award. In 2006 he was recognized as the small-business person of the year for Washington by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

– Bert Caldwell

Talk aims to bridge generational gaps

Companies with two or three generations of employees need to address the specific working and learning traits of each, says a Spokane consultant who will give a talk on that topic Thursday evening.

Mary Ellen Sanger, chairwoman of the management department at Spokane Falls Community College, will discuss multigenerational communication in the workplace from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in downtown Spokane.

For instance, baby boom-era workers prefer interactive forms of learning, while “Gen X” workers prefer learning in an online environment, she said.

“Gen Y” or “Millennial” workers — those in their early 20s — prefer learning in groups.

Sanger’s presentation is sponsored by the Spokane chapter of the American Society of Women Accountants. For reservations, e-mail

– Tom Sowa


Near $127 a barrel, oil sets a record

Oil prices shot to a record, near $127 a barrel, Tuesday on concerns that Iran may consider cutting crude oil production. Gas prices, meanwhile, also rose to a record: more than $3.73 a gallon nationally Tuesday. The price advance shows little sign of slowing with Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer driving season, a little more than a week away. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.65 in Spokane on Tuesday and $3.51 in Coeur d’Alene, according to AAA.

– Associated Press


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