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

Spokane County jobless rate rose to 7 percent last month

Spokane County’s jobless rate rose to 7 percent in November, an increase of three-tenths of a percentage point from the month before, the state Employment Security Department said Monday.

This is the second straight year that Spokane’s jobless rate increased in November; last year it went to 7.6 percent, up from 7.3 percent the month before.

November’s numbers are not seasonally adjusted, and the uptick is largely due to colder weather affecting some jobs, said Doug Tweedy, the regional labor economist for Spokane.

If Spokane follows past patterns, December’s jobless rate will inch up a bit more next month, he predicted. That’s due to many education jobs shutting down during the holidays.

The state’s overall jobless rate in November was 6.5 percent, unchanged from the month before. King County’s jobless rate in November was 5 percent, down from 5.5 percent in October.

The U.S. average jobless rate in November was 7 percent.

Some of that slump comes from seasonal shifts, including declines in construction, Tweedy said.

Based on employer-provided surveys of jobs, Spokane County lost 800 positions during November, the state reported.

Construction accounted for 500 of those, Tweedy said.

Leisure and hospitality – which includes bars and restaurants, amusement parks and golf courses – lost 700 jobs in November, Tweedy said.

That leisure-hospitality decline is tied to seasonal shifts, Tweedy said, but it might also reflect nontraditional hiring practices in that sector this fall.

One possible theory was earlier-than-usual hiring by some hospitality firms and restaurants in September and October, followed by layoffs and job cuts in November as business declined, Tweedy said.

Spokane sectors that gained jobs in November were retail, up 800 jobs; education, up 200 jobs; and health care, up 400 jobs.

“The gains in education jobs were primarily in higher education,” Tweedy said.

The big upswing in retail jobs was mostly within general merchandise businesses, accounting for a 500-job gain, Tweedy said. Those are seasonal jobs as big-box and smaller retailers staffed up for the holidays, he said.