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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

County unemployment rate down from March

Spokane County’s unemployment rate sat at 8.9 percent in April, according to a report from the Washington state Employment Security Department.

The jobless number was nearly a point better than March’s 9.8 percent unemployment rate. But it was just 0.3 percent lower than the 9.2 percent unemployment rate of April 2011.

The most important employment months will be May, June and July. That’s when construction hiring and job opportunities will give economists a better read on the strength of the fledgling economic recovery, state regional economist Doug Tweedy said.

Economists expect the unemployment rate to drop to around 8 percent. If it’s higher, Tweedy said, it may signal that Spokane will struggle with job creation through the remainder of the year and perhaps next year.

A lag in construction hiring and an extra 7,000 people in the labor force in April dampened the most recent monthly jobs report, he said.

Tweedy said the mix of jobs in Spokane continues to be a bit of good news.

King County, by comparison, had an April unemployment rate of 6.1 percent as major components of the Seattle economy strengthen. Aerospace jobs such as those offered by Boeing remain strong and create large numbers of secondary jobs.

“It will be the major urban centers that will lead the recovery,” Tweedy said.

The unemployment rate in Snohomish County was 7.1 percent, though Pierce County was at 9 percent.

Washington’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.

John Stucke

Companies reach deal to sell Motel 6 chains

NEW YORK – French hotel company Accor SA is checking out of Motel 6, and a prominent U.S. investment firm is moving in.

Accor said Tuesday that it reached a deal to sell the U.S. motel company, including its extended-stay chain Studio 6, to The Blackstone Group LP for $1.9 billion.

Motel 6, known for low prices and the slogan “we’ll leave the light on for you,” encompasses 1,102 hotels and 107,347 hotel rooms in the U.S. and Canada.

Accor said the deal, which it expects to close in October, will give it the resources to grow faster in Asia and the Pacific, Central and South America, and Europe.

The company will continue to own and operate luxury and upscale flagship hotels in the U.S. under the Sofitel and Novotel brands.

New York-based Blackstone said in the companies’ joint statement that it will operate Motel 6 independently, as it does its other hotel chains. It plans to invest in Motel 6’s properties and speed the expansion of its franchise base.

The private equity firm’s other hotel companies include Hilton Worldwide.

Associated Press