Seasonal hiring of educators and retail workers helped push Spokane County’s unemployment rate down last month. It fell to 8.3 percent in October, down from September’s revised rate of 8.4 percent.
It’s the lowest rate so far this year but remains high than in October 2010, when unemployment was 8.1 percent. There were about 5,000 more jobs here one year ago, said Doug Tweedy, regional economist for the state Employment Security Department.
October typically has the highest employment rate of the year as schools bring on teachers and staff, and as stores get ready for the holiday shopping season. The local economy supports about 25,000 retail jobs, which is up 280 jobs over last October.
But the public sector continues to be a drag on the economy due to federal, state and local government layoffs – a trend that will persist into 2012, Tweedy said.
“We’re still making up for lost jobs over the year,” he said.
Private employers, however, have added about 800 jobs this year in Spokane County. The bulk of those have been in the manufacturing and health care sectors.
Another positive sign is that initial claims for unemployment benefits are down to 2007 levels, which tweedy said can be a leading indicator of job growth.
Statewide, unemployment in October was at 8.3 percent, down from 8.8 percent in October 2010.