Business

Seasonal layoffs hit Spokane area

The unemployment rate in Spokane climbed to 9.8 percent in January, as many retail companies laid off seasonal workers, Washington’s Employment Security Department said.

The jobless rate in December was 8.4 percent. In January 2012 Spokane’s jobless rate was 9.9 percent, said Doug Tweedy, state labor economist.

The spike in the rate is normal in January as workers leave seasonal holiday jobs in retail and hospitality, he said.

The 9.8 percent rate is not seasonally adjusted to reflect the hiring-layoff cycle that normally happens, Tweedy said.

Last year Spokane’s jobless rate fell below 8 percent only in September (7.7 percent) and October (7.3 percent).

Washington state’s January unemployment rate was 8.5 percent.

Nearly every job sector in Spokane County saw declines in jobs from December to January. The largest losses were seen in retail (down 1,200 jobs), government (down 800), health care (down 400), professional and business services (down 300), and manufacturing (down 200).

Tweedy said Spokane County shows relatively strong job growth in the past 12 months. Nonfarm employment in the county grew by 4,800 jobs, to 205,800, he said.

February jobs numbers are due out at the end of the month: State numbers will be released on March 20, and local numbers on March 26.



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