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Spokane County unemployment rate drops to 5% in May

UPDATED: Tue., June 25, 2019

Spokane County’s unemployment rate dropped to 5% in May as seasonal construction employment picked up.

The county added more than 2,300 nonfarm jobs last month compared to a month prior, according to nonseasonally adjusted data from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

About 1,200 of those jobs were in the construction sector, said Doug Tweedy, regional economist for the state employment department.

“We had kind of a slow start to construction this spring because of bad weather,” he said. “Now, it’s starting to heat up, mainly in bigger projects like roads and bridges.”

The first two quarters of 2019 have not only been strong in the construction sector, but also in the transportation, warehousing and hospitality industries, he said.

Spokane County added 800 jobs in professional and business services and 600 jobs in leisure and hospitality in May. The financial activities sector saw a decline of 400 jobs, and education and health services dropped 600 jobs.

The county’s unemployment rate in April was 5.5% and 4.7% in May 2018.

Washington state employers added 9,600 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in May, with 8,400 of those in the private sector. The state’s unemployment rate was 4.7% last month, according to seasonally adjusted data from the state employment department.

Tweedy said county employment is strong with fewer layoffs and unemployment insurance claims.

Wholesale trade has increased over last year, indicating that businesses are continuing to buy goods, he said.

“We do expect unemployment to drop even below 5% through the rest of the year,” Tweedy said.

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