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Wash. unemployment rate slightly increases

Tue., Sept. 15, 2009, 10:18 a.m.

Washington’s unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent in August, up from July’s revised rate of 8.9 percent, state officials said Tuesday.

Spokane County’s jobless rate increased a similar amount, to 8.5 percent in August, from 8.2 percent in July.

The state lost an estimated 8,000 nonagricultural jobs last month, a turnaround from a gain of 11,800 jobs in July.

The number of unemployed in Spokane County rose by 820 persons, to 20,310. The number of those with jobs also increased last month, up by 2,030 workers to 219,660.

Industries with the largest declines statewide were professional and business services, which lost 2,500 jobs; retail trade, down 2,400, and education and health services, down 1,800.

Some areas did see growth, with government up 1,800 new jobs; leisure and hospitality, which added 800; transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 700, and construction, which gained 200 jobs.

Economists say the small gain in construction jobs is the first increase in that sector since January 2008.

More than 319,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in August, according to the state Employment Security Department.

Last year at this time, Washington’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent. The state lost 126,100 jobs from August 2008 to August 2009, a 4.2 percent decrease. Nationally, employment declined by 4.3 percent over the past year.

Washington state’s unemployment rate is lower than the national rate, which was 9.7 percent for August.

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