Spokane County’s jobless rate in March dropped to 7.9 percent from February’s revised rate of 8.6 percent.
State labor economists say Spokane County employers gained about 1,600 jobs in March. Washington’s overall March jobless rate is 6.9 percent, down from 7.3 percent in February.
Both the state and county jobless numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
During March, the Spokane sectors with the largest gains were education and health services, up 600 jobs; professional and business services, up 400; trade, transportation and utilities, up 300; and construction, up 200.
The largest March declines were in state government, down 200 jobs, and financial activities, down 100.
Using reports from area employers, the state reported Spokane County had 213,900 jobs in March, compared with 212,300 in February.
Doug Tweedy, the state labor economist for most of Eastern Washington, said he prefers looking at the 12-month changes rather than comparing March to February.
The year-over-year comparison finds the largest job gains were in health and social assistance, up 800 jobs; government, up 600 jobs; wholesale trade, up 500 jobs; and financial activities, up 400. The 600 jobs added in government were shared by local and state agencies. A large share of the jobs were related to the medical school on the Riverpoint campus, he said.
Compared to March 2013, the biggest drops were in leisure and hospitality, down 900 jobs; general merchandise, down 200 jobs; and professional-business services, down 100 jobs.
The leisure-hospitality category includes food services and drinking establishments, hotels, entertainment and recreation.
The loss of 900 jobs is a preliminary estimate and will be revised in May, Tweedy said. About 200 of the 900 jobs lost were in food and drink establishments, he said.
That category also includes recreation venues, such as bowling alleys, golf courses and pool halls. The entertainment subgroup includes spectator sports venues, including Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, he added.
The May revision will add more detail on which of the subgroups lost the most jobs, Tweedy added.