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County jobless rate up in August

Nearly 2,000 jobs lost in Spokane in 12 months

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 Tuesday.

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.

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.

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

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