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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane’s jobs scene improves

More people found work in the Spokane area last month, bringing the unemployment rate down to 10.5 percent. It was 11.3 percent in February, and stood at 9.7 percent one year ago.

Spokane County had an estimated 214,500 employed people in March, or about 2,400 more than in February, the state Employment Security Department reported this morning. The number of unemployed was about 25,000, down from nearly 27,000 the month before.

In a sign the local economy is turning the corner on job losses, employment gains occurred across most industries, said Regional Labor Economist Doug Tweedy in Spokane.

A significant part of the employment gain last month was in seasonal hires by employers who delayed hiring because of the lingering effects of the recession, Tweedy said.

Construction and retail trades, two of the hardest hit industries during this recession, posted 400 job gains in March. Professional and technical trades added another 300 jobs.

Statewide, the jobless rate in March edged up to 9.5 percent from February’s revised rate of 9.4 percent. Still, Washington’s economy gained an estimated 1,600 jobs last month, the state Employment Security Department reported this morning.

The job gains marked the second time in three months the state posted positive job numbers, after 13 consecutive months of job losses.

“This recovery is going to take time, but the latest job gains are another positive indicator that we’re on the right track,” Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee said.

The state labor force grew by nearly 6,000 people in March. It’s likely that many of them previously grew discouraged, stopped looking for work and are now job-hunting again, said Dave Wallace, an economist at Employment Security.

People who are unemployed but not actively seeking work are not factored into the unemployment rate.

Scott Maben
Scott Maben joined The Spokesman-Review in 2006. He currently is the Business Editor.

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