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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County unemployment rate falls to 6.8%

Spokane County’s unemployment rate fell to 6.8 percent in March as hiring grew across a variety of business sectors. There were 6,000 new jobs added in Spokane from March 2014 to March 2015, driving down the jobless rate from 7.9 percent to 6.8 percent, said state labor economist Doug Tweedy. It’s the best jobless report for the month of March since the recession; in March 2010 the jobless rate in Spokane County was 11.3 percent. “We’re gaining,” Tweedy said, acknowledging that there’s work to be done in what is widely considered a tepid local economic recovery that’s lagging behind other cities. Spokane’s unemployment rate trails the statewide average of 5.7 percent, for example. The state number is influenced by surging King (4.1 percent) and Snohomish (4.5 percent) counties. A quick look at where the new jobs in Spokane are includes 1,700 in what’s called professional business services, a broad category that captures the job growth in research and development at universities. The category also includes legal, accounting and banking. Tweedy noted the job growth in banking was unexpected amid mergers and consolidations. That includes the Umpqua Bank purchase of Sterling Savings. Health care jobs continued to rise, too. There were about 500 jobs added, especially in clinics, outpatient care centers, and assisted care living facilities, in the past year. Another 500 jobs were added in construction year-over-year. And the number of retail, leisure and hospitality jobs grew by 1,400 as overall economic gains boost travel and shopping. This is helping young people gain work experience, and Tweedy said he expects better summer job prospects for high school and college students. “We’re still not at the peaks we had before the recession,” he said, “but we’re getting closer.” Tweedy said the job gains arrive as older workers feel safe to retire. Stock market gains are helping more people feel secure enough about their finances to leave their careers, thus opening job opportunities.
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