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Unemployment In Washington State Hits Four Year Low

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Unemployment has dropped to a four-year low in Washington. The state Employment Department Wednesday released the latest jobless stats. During December, Washington's unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent -- one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the revised rate for November.

The state's chief labor economist, Joe Elling, tempers his enthusiasm though. He says the decline is mostly caused by a shrinking labor force.

"The implication from these numbers is a large increase in the number of people who are dropping out of the labor force because they are discouraged," Elling says. "They have given up their [job] search, at least on a temporary basis."

Oregon released its latest jobless numbers Monday. It's unemployment rate was unchanged last month -- 8.4 percent.

On the Web:

December Employment Report (Washington Employment Security Department)
Oregon Unemployment Rate (Oregon Employment Department)

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.