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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County unemployment rate drops to 4.2% in July

Laid-off workers in Spokane County filed 247 new claims during the week ending Oct.2, compared with 287 claims filed the week before, according to the Washington state Employment Security Department.  (Associated Press)

Spokane County’s preliminary unemployment rate dropped to 4.2% in July, marking it’s lowest level since July 1998.

The Spokane metropolitan statistical area, which includes Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, added 2,200 nonfarm jobs and 4,900 private sector jobs in July, according to non-seasonally adjusted data from the Washington state Employment Security Department.

“We had an amazing increase in jobs and payroll numbers are on par with pre-pandemic levels,” said Doug Tweedy, a regional economist with the ESD.

Although pandemic-related shutdowns created a rapid decline in jobs within the county, the pace in which businesses reopened and employees returned to work was historic, Tweedy said.

A majority of the county’s labor growth last month occurred in the private sector, Tweedy added.

The food services and drinking places sector gained 700 jobs from June to July, while health care and social assistance gained 600 jobs. Food and beverage stores added 500 jobs last month.

The county is experiencing a shift in workers across industries.

For example, former hospitality employees are obtaining work in essential businesses in the transportation and warehousing sector.

The county’s labor force is also diversifying and has added jobs in the transportation, warehousing, finance and IT sectors, Tweedy said.

New jobless claims have significantly dropped since the start of the pandemic, meaning fewer people are being laid off, Tweedy said.

“Initial claims have dropped to near what they were in 2019, which is another good indicator for the future,” Tweedy said.