Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Washington Unemployment Rate Ticks Up Slightly Amidst Steady Hiring

Washington and Oregon's latest unemployment numbers offer a paradox.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the states reported strong job gains. But the unemployment rate either stayed flat -- or in Washington's case -- actually ticked up for November.

In Olympia, state labor economist Paul Turek said improved hiring prospects have caused the biggest surge in job seekers in Washington in 25 years.

"The increase in payroll employment -- job opportunities -- have been able to absorb a percentage of those who are moving in, but are not yet sufficient to employ all of the ones that are looking,” Turek said. “So we have that bump up in the unemployment rate."

Turek said November was the third month in a row that Washington's jobless rate ticked up. It's now at 6.2 percent.

In Oregon, hiring and labor force growth are more in sync. The statewide unemployment rate held steady at 7 percent from October to November.

Turek added he doesn't think the slight rise in the unemployment rate is cause for concern. He said it's an expected sign that improved hiring prospects are drawing lots of people off the sidelines into the labor market.

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.