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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Thanks to benchmarking, Washington state’s job gains in 2011 are way better

Washington state released two numbers Wednesday, both with a smiling face.

First, the January jobless number for the state was 8.3 percent, a drop from December's revised rate of 8.6 percent.

The second: a revised total job growth number for 2011. Due to the arcane business of "benchmarking," the state's overall job gains in 2011 are now bigger and more subtantial than first believed.

The revised, benchmarked data show Washington gained about 53,500 jobs in 2011, compared to the 26,600 jobs previously reported. That's more than 100 percent better than the original number.

Benchmarking is a process by which the government goes back over data supplied by employers and recalculates and improves the data for jobless rates and employment.

Another upside from benchmarking: Washington's jobless rates in the latter half of 2011 were slightly better than initially estimated.

In other announcements, the state Employment Security Department announced the state gained 13,200 jobs during January.

“These numbers show that our economy is gaining strength, and that’s great news to start to the new year,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. If you care to dive into the full ESD release, it's at this link.

Here are the big sectors gaining jobs during January:

  • Professional and business services 5,500 jobs
  • Retail trade, 2,700 jobs
  • Education and health services, 2,300
  • Wholesale, 1,100
  • Leisure and hospitality 1,100
  • Construction, 900
  • Information, 500
  • Financial activities, 500.

Big losers among statewide sectors:

  • Government, down 1,100
  • Services, down 200
  • Mining & logging, down 200.

The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.