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Spokane County unemployment decreases in April

The unemployment rate in Spokane County was 7.7 percent in April, down from 9 percent the previous month, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

Washington’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in April, down from 7.5 percent in March.

Job growth has been strong in Western Washington, with the unemployment rate in King County at 4.4 percent, down from 5.1 percent in March. The unemployment rate in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metropolitan area was 4.5 percent, versus 5.3 percent the previous month.

Still, Spokane’s lower rate is “a good sign that Spokane is moving toward recovery,” labor market economist Ajsa Suljic said.

Numbers contained in the employer-based survey of workers say Spokane gained 2,200 jobs from March to April. Suljic said construction, retail trade, and leisure and hospitality all are doing well. Food and beverage retailers gained 500 jobs, she added.

The April numbers are considered preliminary, while the state keeps gathering follow-up numbers from employers to refine the trends.

Because of ongoing revisions, the state also altered its earlier estimate that Spokane lost 500 state higher education jobs in March, Suljic said. Instead of 500 jobs lost at state-funded colleges, Spokane County remained flat in March then lost only 100 jobs in April, Suljic said.

The job count for Spokane’s state higher education sector fell from 5,800 to 5,700 in April, she said.