Business

College graduates entering labor force boost county jobless rate

Spokane County’s unemployment rate for May grew to 9.1 percent, up from 8.7 percent in April, the state reported Tuesday.

Spokane’s May 2012 number exactly matches the May 2011 jobless rate.

Statewide, Washington’s jobless rate ticked up to 8.3 percent in May, from 8.2 percent in April. One year ago, the Washington jobless rate was 9.3 percent. The national jobless rate in May was 8.2 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April.

Spokane’s jobless increase reflects a seasonal impact from college graduates hitting the job market, said Doug Tweedy, the state’s Spokane-area labor economist. That number comes from household surveys.

A different survey, based on employer payroll, measures total employment in the county. That survey found 2,900 more jobs in Spokane in May than April, Tweedy said.

The 2,900 number, however, is not seasonally adjusted. The seasonally adjusted change in Spokane from April to May is 1,600 more jobs, Tweedy said.

Sectors in Spokane accounting for job growth were manufacturing, construction, leisure-hospitality and professional-scientific-technical, a category covering lawyers, researchers and companies involved in pharmaceutical production. Spokane’s hospitality and construction job gains were mostly seasonal, Tweedy noted.

One number showing positive direction is the total number of initial jobless claims. Tweedy said May 2012 had 2,554 new claims, the lowest monthly number for 2012. Even so, that number was higher than in May 2011 – which totaled 2,197.

Grays Harbor County had the state’s highest jobless rate, at 13.7 percent. San Juan County had the lowest rate, 6.6 percent, edging out Whitman County’s 6.7 percent.



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