Despite solid gains in private jobs, summer layoffs at area universities and local school districts pushed Spokane County’s July unemployment rate up by two-tenths percent, to 5.7 percent, state officials said Tuesday.
June’s revised jobless rate for Spokane was 5.5 percent. Washington state’s July jobless rate was 5.4 percent, up slightly from 5.3 percent in June.
In July 2013, Spokane’s jobless rate was 7.6 percent and the state unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.
Job cuts in K-12 public schools and universities totaled 3,300, said Doug Tweedy, the state’s labor economist for Spokane.
Of those, 2,200 jobs were summer layoffs at Spokane colleges and universities, and the remaining 1,100 were at K-12 districts.
While state education jobs slumped in July, Spokane added about 2,100 private-sector jobs in July, Tweedy said.
A large number of those added jobs are also seasonal and show up only in summer, he added.
The biggest gain was in private education, which added 600 jobs in July.
That subsector includes private colleges, universities, K-12 schools and technical training schools. During the summer it covers sports and recreation camps and academic camps, plus workers who provide food, transportation and other camp services, Tweedy said.
Also adding jobs in Spokane in July:
• Health care and medical services, up 500 jobs.
• Construction, up 400 jobs.
• Retail trade, up 300 jobs.
• Professional and business services, up 300 jobs.
• Leisure and hospitality, up 200 jobs.
Going back a full year, Spokane’s economy added about 5,700 jobs. Of those, 500 were government or state-funded jobs, while 5,200 jobs were in the private sector, the state report said.
The largest contributing sector from July 2013 to last month was education and health services, which added 3,140 jobs in the last 12 months, Tweedy noted. Of that group, more than 1,800 jobs came from private education, Tweedy said, adding that many of those are part of the seasonal surge of summer camps.