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Shrinking rate of joblessness tied to schools

Wed., Oct. 20, 2010, midnight

The unemployment rate in Spokane County fell to 8.2 percent in September as educators headed back to classrooms.

Doug Tweedy, regional labor economist for the Washington Employment Security Department, said seasonal hiring by schools accounted for all of the 1,220 jobs added to local payrolls since August, when the jobless rate was 8.8 percent.

Since September 2009, when unemployment stood at 8.4 percent, employment has increased by 2,000, to 216,960. Tweedy said hiring in health care, business and professional services, and production and assembly contributed most to the growth over the past year.

He said the increases, while welcome, have not offset the 10,000 jobs lost here in 2009.

Statewide, employment was relatively flat, with businesses adding 1,000 jobs while the public sector eliminated 4,200. The unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, held at 9 percent, slightly below the 9.6 percent rate for the United States. Unadjusted — Spokane’s rate is not seasonally adjusted — the rate was 8.6 percent.

Dave Wallace, the department’s acting chief economist, characterized Washington’s employment situation as a “holding pattern” in which government layoffs will be the biggest factor.

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