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Spokane County unemployment falls to 6.2 percent

Tue., May 20, 2014, 4:05 p.m.

Spokane’s jobless rate in April sank to 6.2 percent, the lowest since November 2008, reflecting warm-weather job expansion in construction, warehousing and business services.

Spokane’s unemployment rate in March was 7.8 percent and 7.7 percent in April 2013.

Washington state’s April jobless rate was 5.6 percent, compared with 6.7 percent in April 2013.

The county’s previous low jobless rate was 5.9 percent in November 2008, according to Washington’s Employment Security Department.

Spokane’s unemployment numbers then increased and hit their high mark, 11.5 percent, in February 2010, said state labor economist Doug Tweedy.

Tweedy said the April rate is preliminary and will be revised for accuracy next month.

While Spokane County is still below its pre-recession employment numbers, the past 12 months produced a net gain of 2,500 jobs, Tweedy said.

Job sectors that made the largest gains were trade-transportation-utilities, up 1,300 jobs in the past year; construction, up 400 jobs; and private education-health services, up 1,000 jobs.

In trade-transportation, the warehousing subgroup contributed 500 jobs in the past year, Tweedy said. He said that activity suggests increased consumer and business activity as wholesalers are delivering more products to retailers in the area.

The area’s private schools and universities, including technical schools, contributed 200 jobs in the past 12 months. The broad sector of health services added 800 jobs since April 2013.

Of that group, the biggest subgroup was nursing and residential services, which increased roughly 320 jobs in the past year, Tweedy said.

Hospital employment remained steady, however, at roughly 8,300 jobs across the county.

Health care jobs and seasonal jobs also pumped up Kootenai County’s economy in April, where the jobless rate fell to 5.4 percent, down from 6.4 percent the month before. Idaho uses seasonally adjusted rates, while Washington does not for country numbers.

Over the past year Kootenai County has added 1,300 nonfarm jobs, said labor economist Alivia Metts.

Of those a large group — about 400 — came in the education-health services sector. A large share of those jobs, she said, are jobs inside nursing homes.

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