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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County unemployment rate drops to 6.2 percent

April 25, 2017 Updated Tue., April 25, 2017 at 8:43 p.m.

Construction workers walk down a ramp Tuesday at the site of a 109-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel going up at 675 S. McClellan St. in Spokane. The falling unemployment rate in Spokane County is driven in part by an uptick in construction. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Construction workers walk down a ramp Tuesday at the site of a 109-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel going up at 675 S. McClellan St. in Spokane. The falling unemployment rate in Spokane County is driven in part by an uptick in construction. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane County’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in March, down from 6.8 percent in February, the Washington Employment Security Department said Tuesday.

A year ago, the March jobless rate stood at 6.7 percent.

The state rate is the lowest it’s been in nearly 10 years, dropping to 4.7 percent last month. Unemployment rates at the county level are not seasonally adjusted like the statewide rate is, making it difficult to compare the two.

The national unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March.

Fewer people are being laid off and more people are working, said Doug Tweedy, regional economist for the Washington Labor Security Department.

Spokane County continues to have about 4,000 more jobs than at this time last year, Tweedy said.

“March is a transitional month from the winter going into building, recreation, and leisure and hospitality,” he said.

The strongest employment sectors for job growth now are construction, transportation/warehousing, professional/business services, and public and private education, Tweedy said.

“We do have some concerns about the counties to the north of us,” he said.

The unemployment rate was 13 percent last month in Ferry County, the highest it has been in about 12 months and up sharply from a rate of 8.7 percent there in September.

The March rate was 9.3 percent in Pend Oreille County and 9.4 percent in Stevens County.

“Natural resource economies are very seasonal,” Tweedy said of the three counties north of Spokane. “We’re starting to see … decreases in mining and manufacturing work,” mainly in metal fabrication, he said.

An encouraging sign is the promise of plentiful jobs for young adults this summer, Tweedy said.

“We’re starting to see some real strong signs that summer employment is going to be good this year,” he said.

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