For the third year in a row, the Spokane metro area added more than 5,000 new jobs.
The number of new jobs in 2017 totaled 5,258 for the metro area, which encompasses Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. The growth was slightly under earlier projections of 5,500 new jobs, but still strong for the area, said Doug Tweedy, regional economist for the state Employment Security Department.
The 2017 unemployment rate for the Spokane metro area averaged 5.5 percent, down from the 2016 average of 6.5 percent.
“Unemployment continues to decrease, though we still have pockets of people trying to update their skills for this new labor market,” Tweedy said.
He’s projecting continued job growth for the Spokane metro area in 2018. Tweedy expects unemployment rates to drop to 4.5 percent this year, creating competition among employers for workers.
In December, unemployment rates rose to 5.7 percent in Spokane County and 7.9 percent in both Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.
Last month’s increase in jobless rates is part of a seasonal flux, Tweedy said. Construction jobs typically taper off during the winter, and schools shut down for several weeks over the holidays. Companies that provide business services also are less busy in December, he said.
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