The Spokesman-Review

Spokane unemployment rate unchanged from last year

Spokane County’s August jobless rate rose to 9.2 percent, up from 8.8 percent the month before, the state’s Employment Security Department said today.

One year ago Spokane’s unemployment rate was exactly the same, 9.2 percent.

Washington’s jobless rate in August was 9.3 percent. The U.S. average in August was 9.1 percent.

The most daunting number, noted area labor economist Doug Tweedy, is the reduction in Spokane jobs from August 2010. A year ago the county had 210,212 people working, according to business surveys.

By August this year, the number of employees in Spokane fell to 208,410.

Even so, Tweedy is not seeing a negative trend. “The rolling average for the first eight months is more important than just August to August,” he noted.

He said the first eight months of 2010 and 2011 are essentially the same and show a “stable” job picture overall. But the job market is also marked by hot and cold spots, Tweedy noted.

Four industries in Spokane accounted for 1,800 lost jobs in August. They were:

•Government, down 900 jobs.

•Retail trade, down 500.

•Construction, down 300.

•Financial services, down 100.

Government is clearly being hard hit, Tweedy said, with the losses for now coming primarily at the federal and state level.

The industries with the biggest August job gains in Spokane are health services (up 600), manufacturing (up 500) and leisure and hospitality (up 100).

Tweedy said the gains in health services and manufacturing are encouraging as they’re in industries that tend to have stable and high-paying jobs, he said.

Even though Spokane’s jobless rate increased in August, the number of people working is about 3,300 higher than in July. That happens when both more people go to work and even more people go back into the job market looking for work, Tweedy said.

“As the employment prospects start to improve, more people are interested in seeking work,” he said.



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