The unemployment rate for Spokane and Washington’s three northeast counties dropped a half percentage point in August, to 6.1 percent, the latest figures from the state Employment Security Department showed today.
The declines in unemployment, which is a full percentage point below the same period in 2014, are especially encouraging because they point to a broadening of the economy, said Doug Tweedy, regional labor economist for the department.
“They show a diversified base,” Tweedy said. “It hasn’t been just one or two industries or one or two employers.”
Compared to a year ago, there have been gains in almost every industry the department tracks, with some of the largest coming in health care and health education. The regional economy also saw an uptick in jobs in manufacturing and construction, which in turn helped generate more jobs in transportation and warehousing.
The area had almost 7,000 more jobs, and about 1,800 fewer people in the civilian labor force, according to preliminary figures for August release by the department.
The drop in workers is a result of several things, including discouraged workers who have been unemployed for long periods and drop out of the labor market, and members of the Baby Boom generation who are retiring and taking themselves out of the market, Tweedy said.
The retirements are a national trend, he said.
One of the drops in employment in August were in schools and colleges, which often lay off some of their staffs for the summer, which usually makes that season the low point for Spokane area employment. Those jobs should show up again in the September job report, bringing the unemployment rate down further, Tweedy said.
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