The unemployment rate in Spokane County slipped to 7.8 percent in October, the lowest rate in almost two years.
The number of employed rose to 220,210, up from 216,960 in September, and 218,850 in October 2009.
But Doug Tweedy, local labor economist for the Washington Employment Security Department, cautioned that the seasonal and part-time jobs captured in the October numbers do not necessarily signal a turnaround in job numbers.
“We’re still well behind where we were in 2008,” he said, noting the county lost 8,000 jobs in 2009. For the first 10 months of this year, unemployment in the county averaged 9.3 percent.
Tweedy said private sector hiring flattened in October, the first time in 2010 that businesses did not increase payroll.
Most of the October job gains were in retailing, he said. The other major contributor was public and private education.
So far in 2010, health care has generated more new jobs than any other sector, adding 2,000.
Tweedy said there are 1,998 job openings posted at the Spokane WorkSource office, up from 1,700 in September and almost double the 1,050 of one year ago.
But after months of decreases, first-time filings for unemployment benefits increased from September to October, he said.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for all of Washington was 9.1 percent, unchanged from a revised figure for September. The national rate was 9.6 percent.
The unadjusted rate for Washington was 8.5 percent. Spokane statistics are not adjusted for season variations.