Spokane County’s unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in five years.
About 6,000 jobs have been created in the past year, said regional economist Doug Tweedy, helping to drive down joblessness in September to 6.6 percent, and 6.8 percent in October.
“We’re very encouraged,” he said.
The unemployment rate is predicted to stay below 7 percent in November, even as construction jobs ebb and local and state government jobs continue to dwindle.
The last time Spokane County’s unemployment dipped this low was November 2008 as the economy came crashing down.
Continuing growth in manufacturing, transportation and health care has begun to lift hiring in other job sectors, notably retail, as well as leisure and hospitality.
There are some worries, Tweedy said, including consolidation in the financial services sector.
Sterling Financial Corp., one of Spokane’s largest employers and among the few corporations headquartered here, agreed to a buyout offer from Portland-based Umpqua Bank.
The transaction is under review by banking regulators and is expected to be finalized next year.