Business

February statewide unemployment stays at 6.4 percent

Washington’s unemployment rate remained at 6.4 percent in February, state officials reported Wednesday.

The steady statewide unemployment rate over January and February, combined with growth in payroll numbers, suggests Washington’s economy remains in growth mode, the Employment Security Department said in a release. The state’s labor force of nearly 3.5 million rose by about 10,000 people over the past month, economists said.

The department also said Spokane’s jobless rate in January pushed up to 7.9 percent, from 7.4 percent in December.

Labor economist Doug Tweedy said the good news in Spokane is the year-over-year growth. The jobless rate in January 2013 was 9.7 percent, he said.

Spokane’s January job slippage was expected as part of seasonal job losses, he added, as stores shed retail workers and the construction sector slowed down.

From January 2013 to January 2014, Tweedy noted that five sectors showed notable growth: health care added 700 jobs; retail trade and private education each gained 600; financial services and construction gained 500. The one notable loser in the past year: leisure and hospitality, down 400 jobs, Tweedy said.

Because the Employment Security Department goes through a revision of all 2013 data, it doesn’t release the January county and metro rates until mid-March.

Next week, the department will release county and metro rates for February, Tweedy said.



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