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Washington Unemployment Drops, But Economic Weaknesses Remain

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The unemployment rate in Washington dropped a notch in November.

New numbers released by the state Wednesday peg the jobless rate at 6.8 percent -- down from 7 percent in October.

State labor economist Paul Turek says the number of new jobs created last month fell short of his expectations. He says the weakness in the local manufacturing, housing and government sectors may just be temporary.

"If one can be optimistic at the national level -- and I think there is a good case for that -- then there is reason to believe we will follow that in the future," says Turek.

Tuesday, Oregon reported its lowest unemployment rate in five years. But the state's current jobless rate of 7.3 percent is still half a percentage point higher than Washington's.

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.