The unemployment rate in Washington jumped to 7.1 percent in December from 4.9 in December 2007, and more than 250,000 workers were looking for jobs as 2009 began, the Employment Security Department said today.
The rate was the highest since December 2003, and department officials said there are estimates the number could climb into the mid-8 percent range next year.
The highest rate ever, 12.2 percent, was recorded in November 1982.
In Spokane County, the rate rose to 7.6 percent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points over November and 2.5 percentage points over December 2007.
Almost 1,600 workers in the county lost their jobs in December alone as the number of unemployed climbed more than 3,000 to 18,600, an increase of more than 50 percent from one year ago. Employment fell to 226,630 from 227,890 a year ago.
Unemployment rates in several Eastern Washington counties vaulted into double digits: Pend Oreille, 10.8 percent; Stevens, 11.1 percent; Ferry, 10.7 percent; Adams, 10.4 percent; Columbia, 11.4 percent; and Grant, 10.6 percent.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.