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Washington Records Unusually Strong Job Gains In January

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state of Washington recorded unusually strong job gains in January. That's according to new numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Department. A regular survey of businesses found more than 24,000 new jobs created.

The state's chief labor economist, Joe Elling, says there's evidence of gathering "momentum" in the economy. But the January job gains are so strong, he doesn't quite believe them.

"I want to emphasize that this is a preliminary estimate," Elling says. "Over the course of the last three to four years, the January employment estimates have undergone substantial revisions."

Despite the job gains, Washington's unemployment rate for January remained unchanged at 7.5 percent.

Oregon updated its jobless numbers Tuesday and reported modest job gains in January. Oregon's unemployment rate stayed level at 8.4 percent.

On the Web:

Monthly Unemployment Report - Washington Employment Security Dept.

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