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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County’s unemployment rate drops to near-record low in September

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 30, 2018

Lunch cook Sil Hernandez finishes a dish in the kitchen at Scratch Restaurant in Spokane, shown Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Lunch cook Sil Hernandez finishes a dish in the kitchen at Scratch Restaurant in Spokane, shown Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Strong job growth pushed Spokane County’s unemployment rate down to 4.4 percent in September.

Unemployment declined from 4.8 percent in August and represents a near-record low for the month. Two decades have passed since the September jobless rate was at 4.4 percent.

The local economy is on track to create about 5,000 jobs this year, marking the fourth consecutive year of net job gains in the 3,000-5,000 range, said Doug Tweedy, a regional labor economist with the state Employment Security Department.

Employers are hiring across a broad range of industries.

Restaurants, bars and hotels are adding workers, and they’ve created about 1,500 jobs over the past year. Eating and drinking establishments are benefiting from regional population growth and growth in wages, which provides disposable income for people to eat out, Tweedy said.

Manufacturers have created about 600 jobs in Spokane County during the past 12 months. Tweedy said the gains are impressive, because they come as local companies embrace lean manufacturing and automation.

Other job creation occurred in education, which added 600 jobs over the past year. The healthcare industry added 500 jobs, and transportation and warehousing added 400 jobs.

Besides new hiring, fewer employers in Spokane County are laying off workers, which is contributing to the low unemployment rate, Tweedy said.

About 226,937 people were working in Spokane County during September and 10,354 were looking for work, according to preliminary figures from the state Employment Security Department.

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