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2014 Good For Job Creation In Washington and Oregon

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Employers in Washington state added nearly 83,000 jobs in 2014.

The Washington and Oregon employment departments have closed the book on 2014 with the release of their December jobs numbers.

Overall, last year was the best in Washington for growth in new jobs since 1997. State labor economist Paul Turek said Washington employers added nearly 83,000 jobs in the past year.

During a conference call with reporters Thursday, Turek said he's now looking for the unemployment rate to fall from the 6.3 percent rate recorded in December.

"We have a little more slack in the labor market, even though we have job creation,” he said. “So we still have some room to grow to where the unemployment rate can be reduced."

Meanwhile, Oregon's Employment Department reported Wednesday that the Oregon jobless rate dropped to a six-year low in December. The agency said "jobs grew rapidly" in the last three months of the year.

The Oregon unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent, down from 7.0 percent in November.

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.