Washington jobless rate climbs


Washington’s unemployment rate climbed in March despite a gain of 1,110 jobs, the Employment Security Department said Wednesday.

The March unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, a notch higher than the 9.1 percent reported for February.

The state’s unemployment rate remains above the U.S. rate of 8.8 percent.

The biggest job gains were in business and professional services with 2,700; wholesale trade, 1,900; and manufacturing, 1,600. Construction employment slumped by 2,400; education and health services, 1,800; and government, 1,300.

Employers in Washington have added 33,100 workers since March 2010, but 340,325 unemployed were still trying to find a job last month. Of those, 228,911 collected unemployment benefits.

The state labor force shrank by 8,100 from February to March, to 3.5 million. In March 2010, there were 3.54 million workers.

Dave Wallace, the department’s acting chief economist, said he expects the number to increase as discouraged workers perceive more opportunities for employment.

“I feel pretty good about this report, better than the headlines would indicate,” he said.

Wallace said adding 3,000 jobs per month would stabilize the unemployment rate. To bring the rate down by 1 percent, employers must add 6,000 jobs monthly, he said.

County-by-county employment numbers will be released later this month.

More than 22,000 job openings are posted online at the WorkSource website,

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