December 15, 2011 in Business

Unemployment rate 8.7, state’s lowest since 2009

Washington added 12,100 jobs in November
Mike Baker Associated Press
 
Compensation rises

The average total compensation per job in Spokane County rose 2.3 percent in 2010, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Wednesday.

Total compensation – wages and salaries plus employer contributions for pension and insurance funds – averaged $50,336 in 2010, up from $49,227 in 2009, according to the agency’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In Kootenai County, total compensation rose to $41,947, from $40,710 in 2009 – an increase of 3 percent.

In the Seattle area, average compensation in King County rose 3.3 percent to $75,114. In the Boise area, Ada County’s average compensation rose 3.1 percent to $52,105.

Compensation increased in 2,480 counties and declined in 633 counties in the U.S. last year, as the average annual compensation per job increased 2.7 percent to $58,451.

Scott Maben

OLYMPIA – Private-sector job growth has pushed Washington’s unemployment rate to the lowest point since February 2009, officials said Wednesday.

The November jobless rate of 8.7 percent was down from 9.1 percent in October, according to the Employment Security Department. The state added some 12,100 jobs – more than any month since the official start of the recession at the end of 2007.

“We are upbeat. This is good news, but we are being cautious at the same time,” said Greg Morgan, a labor market economist at the Employment Security Department. “Just one month isn’t enough to feel comfortable saying we’re out of the woods just yet.”

The state has been adding jobs regularly over the past year, but it has usually come in smaller chunks.

Morgan said it was too early to say whether the growth was the start of a trend, and noted that the November numbers are preliminary and may be revised. The October jobless number was revised upward from 9 percent to 9.1 percent.

Wednesday’s report showed growth across much of the private sector. The professional and business services sector added 4,200 jobs. Leisure and hospitality grew by 3,800. Construction was up 2,000 jobs.

Government posted a slight decline in jobs.

Washington’s numbers followed the national trend for November. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 8.6 percent.

State economic forecasters believe Washington will outperform the country as a whole during the recovery because of growth in farming and exports, as well as hiring at Microsoft and Boeing. But the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council said in a report this week that debt concerns in Europe have the potential to push the country back into a recession.

More than 300,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in October, according to the Employment Security Department. As of Saturday, some 68,000 workers had exhausted their unemployment benefits.

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