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State reports drop in jobless rate

Education, health care added 4,500 jobs

The unemployment rate in Washington fell to 9.1 percent in January as businesses added 11,000 workers, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

But the gain was the result of a seasonal adjustment, said department labor economist Dave Wallace. Unadjusted, he said, employers shed 47,100 jobs. The decline is typical – particularly in retailing – after Christmas, he said.

“We did not add jobs, we lost fewer jobs than we usually do,” Wallace said.

National labor statistics are also adjusted for seasonal employment cycles, to allow for predictable fluctuations that can affect statistical trends. The January unemployment rate for the United States was 9 percent.

The improvement in Washington’s adjusted rate for January was the best since November 2007, Wallace said.

“It was a much better month than we usually have,” he said.

The unemployment rate in December was 9.3 percent.

More than half of the added jobs – 5,600 – were in business and professional services. Education and health care was up 4,500, retail trade 1,500, and leisure and hospitality 1,300.

Construction employment continued to fall, with 1,500 jobs subtracted in January. Manufacturing trimmed 700 positions, the government and information sectors 600 each.

Figures for each county will be released next week.

Wallace said Washington employers have added 20,500 jobs in the last 12 months.

Department spokesman Jamie Swift said the 11,000 new claims for unemployment in January were down 12 percent from January 2010, and 30 percent from January 2009.

As of Feb. 9, added Communications Director Sheryl Hutchison, 44,000 Washington workers had reached the end of their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Another 1,000 are dropping from the rolls each week, she said.