Spokane County’s unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in September, pushed downward by the return of teachers to classrooms.
The jobless rate in Spokane County in August was 6 percent, according to the Washington Employment Security Department.
In September 2013 the jobless rate in Spokane was 6.8 percent.
Regional labor economist Doug Tweedy said the area continues to add jobs. Spokane County gained 3,000 private-sector jobs over the past 12 months, according to the Employment Security Department.
The statewide unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in September, down from 5.7 percent in August.
Tweedy said the September improvement is a seasonal impact, resulting from schools adding staff after the summer vacation.
But the bigger picture remains upbeat.
“Employment confidence is coming back,” Tweedy said. “Employment numbers are growing. But the challenge we have is with replacing those workers who are retiring. And helping get youth employment to where it should be,” he said.
Over the past year the leading sector adding jobs was health care-social services, up 1,100 jobs – which included 600 new jobs in hospitals, Tweedy said.
Food service and bars added 800 jobs in the past 12 months, he said. Manufacturing added 700 jobs and construction added 400.
“Those manufacturing jobs are very good jobs, paying above-average wages,” he said.
Spokane job sectors seeing job losses since August include retail trade, down 300 jobs; wholesale trade, down 100 jobs; and information services, down 100 jobs.
The retail slump appears tied to cost-cutting by employers and increasing use of technology inside stores to reduce staff, Tweedy said.
“But we expect to see October showing a rise in retail jobs,” he said, as companies begin gearing up for holiday spending.
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