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Tight Labor Market Limits Further Decline In Northwest Unemployment Rates

Washington Employment Security Department

The statewide unemployment rate for Washington is holding at its record low in the latest jobs report out Wednesday. The state's Employment Security Department pegged the jobless rate in June at 4.5 percent, the same as in May.?

Washington's chief labor economist Paul Turek said employers continue to advertise openings—especially in high-tech and construction. But the supply of skilled workers is scarce.

"Given that there's just less available labor for businesses to choose, we wind up with positions that may be unfilled for some point in time until maybe wage conditions change,” Turkey said.

Turek said the statewide unemployment rate looks like it has bottomed out and is unlikely to go much lower. Economists call this "full employment." ?

A similar trend is also evident in Oregon, which is adding jobs at a faster pace than neighboring Washington. It’s unemployment rate has hovered in a narrow range for the last three months. The June reading released Tuesday of a 3.7 percent jobless rate is near the all-time low of 3.6 percent recorded in May. 

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.