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Wash. Jobless Rate Continues To Fall, Down to 6.8% In May

Andreas Klinke Johannsen

Slow improvement in the labor market continues in Washington state. The latest unemployment rate came out Wednesday.

Washington's employment department said the jobless rate for May ticked down two-tenths of a percent from April to land at 6.8 percent.

State labor economist Paul Turek says it's the first time since late 2008 that the unemployment rate stood below seven percent.

"We've been adding jobs," Turek says. "Employment gains have been made on a fairly steady basis. As of this month, then, we have regained about 79 percent of the jobs lost in the recession."

Turek says hiring in the Seattle metro area propels much of the improvement in the state jobless rate. The May unemployment reading for the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area is a tidy 4.7 percent.

Oregon's statewide jobless rate is one percentage point higher than Washington's, based on fresh numbers released Tuesday. Oregon comes in at 7.8 percent.

Web extras:

Monthly Unemployment Report (Washington Dept. of Employment Security):

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.