Spokane-area unemployment slips despite job losses
Census hiring fuels state employment
Employment in Washington increased in May, but only because 9,000 workers were hired to help conduct the 2010 Census.
In Spokane County, employment fell by 1,700 despite the hiring of 700 Census workers.
But fewer people in Spokane were job-hunting, which translated into a drop in the unemployment rate to 8.9 percent in May from 9 percent in April. The rate one year ago was 8.5 percent.
The Washington Employment Security Department said statewide employment increased by 8,600 on the strength of the Census hiring.
Department Chief Economist Dave Wallace said private employers added only 200 jobs.
The state is “treading water,” he said, until employers become more confident the economy is recovering.
“People are still sitting on the fence,” Wallace said.
The state unemployment rate for May was 9.1 percent, matching the level of May 2009. The April rate was 9.3 percent. Those figures are adjusted to account for seasonal swings in hiring.
Unadjusted, the state rate was 8.8 percent, compared with 8.5 percent a year ago. Spokane numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
In April, employment in Spokane had jumped by 3,800, but Doug Tweedy, the department’s labor economist for Spokane, said leisure and hospitality employers laid off 1,000 workers in May.
He noted the Spokane WorkForce office has 1,010 jobs listed, up from 963 in April and 687 in May 2009. There are 16,769 openings listed statewide Tuesday, a decline from 19,000 on May 18 and April 13.