State Unemployment Rate Lowest In 5 Years

Jan 23, 2014

The unemployment rate in Washington state has fallen to the lowest level in five years.

New numbers for December from the state Employment Department peg the current jobless rate at 6.6 percent. The figure hasn’t dipped lower since November 2008.

Credit Mike Baker / AP

State labor economist Paul Turek says there's been steady job creation over the past year. But he cautions some of the improvement can also be traced to discouraged workers simply dropping out of the workforce.

"I have some enthusiasm, but it is tempered enthusiasm. What we are seeing is job growth, but we are not seeing people respond to that to where it is sufficient to see more people coming into the market looking for jobs,” he said.

Turek's agency says the Seattle metro area has recovered all the jobs it lost during the Great Recession, but statewide, there is still a little bit of catching up to do. 

The unemployment rate also dropped to a five year low in Oregon last month. New numbers released by the Oregon Employment Department Wednesday put the statewide jobless rate there at 7.0 percent.