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Washington Jobless Rate Ticks Down On Strong Job Growth

Washington Employment Security Department
Washington's statewide unemployment ratedipped to 5.6 percent in September.

Washington state employers added 20,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month according to the latest numbers out Wednesday from the state’s Employment Security Department.

It's a much higher gain than seen in a while. The early fall job surge helped the state unemployment rate break out of a long plateau at 5.8 percent. The report pegs Washington's current statewide jobless rate at 5.6 percent.

State labor economist Paul Turek said hiring has been strongest in the education, health care and government sectors.

"We're seeing stronger government employment coming in as really the revenue base is being supported by (broad) employment growth and income growth,” Turek said.

In this latest report, the Seattle metro region unemployment rate dipped to 3.9 percent, registering below 4 percent for the first time in many years. Before the Great Recession hit, the Seattle area jobless rate bottomed out at 3.1 percent, Turek said.

In Oregon, government hiring fueled early autumn job gains as well. The state Employment Department said Tuesday that the hiring was concentrated in local education, coinciding with the start of school.

Oregon’s statewide unemployment rate in September came in at 5.5 percent -- virtually unchanged from August.

The nationwide unemployment rate in September was 5.0 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.