Spokane County’s jobless rate rose to 7.3 percent in December from 6.8 percent the prior month.
The slight rise was expected, said Doug Tweedy of the Washington State Employment Security Department.
Spokane sees normal declines in jobs due to seasonal business patterns, he said. Most of those are tied to education and construction.
Another seasonal impact is a drop in hiring by companies that provide snow removal. This year’s mild winter probably accounts for a reduction of an estimated 100 jobs in that category, he said.
“Those are firms that remove snow from stores, parking lots and help make areas accessible in the winter,” he said.
He said Spokane County has roughly 50 such businesses, not counting owner-operators.
Jobs are also affected at the county’s one ski area, Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park, Tweedy said, but state rules prevent him from listing job losses or gains at a single employer.
Also seasonally affected are hotels and hospitality businesses, a pattern Tweedy said was also visible in November’s numbers.
Washington’s jobless rate in December was 6.5 percent, up slightly from November’s 6.4 percent.
From December 2012 to December 2013, Spokane showed a gain of 2,600 nonfarm jobs. The largest job gains were seen in food services and drinking places (up 1,400); construction (up 800); and retail trade (up 600).
Tweedy said total job growth in 2013 was actually 3,900 jobs. That number reflects the annual average over the full year, measured against 2012.
“That December number is a preliminary number and from past experience will go through revision,” Tweedy said.
When the revisions are added, employment should show a gain close to the nonfarm payroll gain of 4,000, he said.