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In brief: West Coast increases exports due to rising Chinese demand

Chinese demand for wood products is behind an increase in West Coast log and lumber exports during the second quarter.

Log exports from Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Alaska jumped about 28 percent during the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2013, according to information from the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station. Lumber exports rose 5 percent during the same period.

At West Coast ports, 65 percent of the outgoing logs and 35 percent of the lumber was destined for China. The total value of all log exports from the Northwest was $398 million during the second quarter. Lumber exports were valued at $172 million.

State’s jobless rate ticks up

While employers statewide added 8,800 jobs in July for the 10th-straight monthly gain, the unemployment rate rose to 6.9 percent from 6.8 percent in June. That snapped a 42-month string of steady or lower joblessness, according to data from the Employment Security Department.

State labor economist Paul Turek, speaking Wednesday in a conference call with reporters, described July as “another decent month” for job growth.

“Hiring has picked back up in recent months after hitting a soft patch earlier in the year,” Turek said, noting that private-sector employers are becoming more confident, while government faces “downward pressure.”

With June job growth revised upward to 10,700 from an original estimate of 9,800, Washington’s economy has added an average of 6,000 jobs over the past 10 months, the state reported.

But Wednesday’s report also gave some cause for pessimism. The ranks of unemployed ticked up by 0.1 percent to 239,600 people. And the labor force, which counts those who are working or actively looking for work, declined by 9,800 people to 3.49 million.

Windows 8.1 to roll out Oct. 17

Microsoft will unveil the first major update for Windows 8 nearly a year after the operating system made its debut.

Windows 8.1 will be available to existing Windows 8 users as a free update that they can download from the Windows Store starting at 4 a.m. on Oct. 17. The update will also be available at retail stores the next day.

“Windows 8.1 continues the vision we began with Windows 8 and is an example of our commitment to continuous innovation and improvement for our customers,” Microsoft said in a blog announcing the release date.

Among the changes in the new version of the Microsoft operating system is a search feature powered by Bing that shows users results from their own files as well as links and information on the Web.

Users will also have more customization options in Windows 8.1.

Eager users can sign up to try an early, preview version of Windows 8.1 now.