State's jobless rate drops

Mar 1, 2011

Washington state added 11,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate in state dropped from 9.3%  in December to 9.1% at the start of the year.

It's the strongest month of job growth in three years, and the largest since November 2007, the month before the national recession began. The gains came outside the agriculture sector.

Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause says it's unusual to have job gains in the middle of winter, calling it a "positive" sign of recovery. 

Washington's chief labor economist, Dave Wallace, says gains are heavily concentrated in professional and business services, health and education.

“If you compare it to historical patterns, it was a much better month than we historically have in January, or somewhat better.”

The dip in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was led by job gains in professional and business services at 5,600 jobs; 4,500 in education and health services; and 1,500 in retail trade.  According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, statewide gains were mirrored in the largest urban core: 

In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area, the unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent in January from 9.1 percent a month earlier. 

State officials say that about 338,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in December. Nationally, the unemployment rate is figured at 9%.