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Spokane County employment the highest since February

Spokane County employers hired more than 3,000 workers in October, restoring total employment numbers to the highest level since February, and taking the unemployment rate to the lowest level since December 2008.

The October rate fell to 7.9 percent, while the statewide rate continued to increase. The Department of Employment Security reported Tuesday a 9.3 percent seasonally adjusted rate for the state, 8.8 percent unadjusted. The Spokane figure is also unadjusted.

The national unemployment rate is 10.2 percent, seasonally adjusted.

There were 222,420 jobholders in Spokane County in October, up from 219,040 in September.

Regional Labor Economist Doug Tweedy said hiring increased almost across the board, with the exception of manufacturing and construction. Retail employment did not increase heading into the holiday season, he said, but flattened out after months of losses.

Despite the October gains, employment in Spokane County remains almost 5,000 below the level of October 2008, when the unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, Tweedy said. Employment peaked in November at 229,380 and bottomed out in June at 217,620.

In neighboring counties, the unemployment rates for October were: Whitman, 4.4 percent; Pend Oreille, 11.3 percent; Stevens, 10.5 percent; and Lincoln, 7.2 percent.

The rate in Kootenai County, reported earlier this month by the Idaho Department of Labor, was 11.1 percent.