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Jobless rate still high, but officials upbeat

Private sector gains since 2011 ‘encouraging’

Spokane County’s unemployment rate was 9 percent in August.

Though the jobless number was higher than in July and underscores the lagging recovery in Spokane compared with Seattle, where unemployment is 7.4 percent, state officials say they are encouraged.

“This report is probably the most encouraging we’ve had this year,” said regional labor economist Doug Tweedy.

He noted that there were 3,300 more jobs in the private sector than in August 2011, when reports showed a 9.5 percent unemployment rate.

Government employment, however, was off by 600 jobs, Tweedy said.

Among the job gains were well-paying positions in accounting and legal services.

Manufacturing employment is up 300 jobs from a year ago. Financial services accounted for 200 other added jobs.

Tweedy said the fall employment outlook remains modest. The recovery will continue its slow pace in Spokane.

Much of the hiring is what economists call replacement hiring, when companies fill jobs vacated due to retirements or resignations.

Job losses in retail, leisure and hospitality over the past several years have been slower to rebound.

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The last time the city of Spokane did a parking study might as well have been 1,000 years ago. It was 2010. There was no Kendall Yards. There was no South Perry District. We laughed at Seattle for its traffic woes. The economic downturn was still turned way down.