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Why The Unemployment Rate Rises When Companies Are Adding Jobs

Washington Employment Security Department
The unemployment rate in Washington state ticked up 0.3 percent in October.

Employers added more 5,600 jobs in Washington state last month. But the unemployment rate as reported by the state Wednesday rose by 0.3 points to 6 percent.

The rise in the unemployment rate is not necessarily bad news, according to state labor economist Paul Turek. He said the economic recovery has encouraged people on the sidelines to begin job searches in greater numbers than the labor market can absorb right now.

"During periods of economic recovery, it is not too uncommon to see a rise in the unemployment rate when we get more workers moving in looking for improved job prospects,” Turkey explained.

Until those job seekers get work though, they're counted with the unemployed.

This rise in Washington's unemployment rate in October puts it slightly above the national average for the first time in two years.

Like Washington, Oregon added thousands of jobs last month. But in Oregon, labor force growth and hiring is more in sync. The statewide unemployment rate remained steady at an even 7 percent.

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.