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Spokane jobless rate up in July

Wed., Aug. 22, 2012, midnight

Government layoffs drag on employment

Spokane County’s jobless rate rose to 8.8 percent in July as the region’s overall economy remains stagnant.

July’s unemployment numbers are usually higher than in June’s – which this year was 8.6 percent – as many school workers slip into job limbo until the fall.

Doug Tweedy, a regional labor economist, noted that the unemployment rate had improved over July 2011, when it was 9.2 percent.

There were 300 more construction jobs than a year ago, in part because of projects at the Riverpoint Campus and Fairchild Air Force Base along with a modest uptick in new home building.

Other growth areas include financial, insurance and legal work.

Tweedy also said the data gathered by the state Employment Security Department show that as wealth and retirement savings rebound, older workers are choosing to retire, which has spurred replacement hiring.

The major drag on employment is continued layoffs in state and local government. Tweedy said government agencies in Spokane have shed 600 employees during the past year.

The unemployment rate is expected to remain flat until holiday hiring begins this fall.

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