State posts first jobs gain since 2008

The Bellingham Business Journal

Washington’s economy picked up some steam in January, adding an estimated 12,400 jobs – the first monthly gain since November 2008. The gains, however, were not enough to combat the rising unemployment rate.

The state unemployment rate remained relatively flat, inching up to an estimated 9.3 percent from the December 2009 revised rate of 9.2 percent. December’s rate was earlier estimated at 9.5 percent, but was revised downward after more analysis.

“This is a positive sign for Washington state,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire in a statement. “We have implemented several strategies to create jobs, and it’s paying off. There is more we can and should do – that’s why I continue to work with leaders at both the state and federal levels to develop additional proposals that will put people to work.”

The largest number of seasonally adjusted job gains occurred in the following industries: retail trade added 3,000 jobs; educational and health services added 2,800 jobs; construction added 2,700 jobs; leisure and hospitality added 1,600 jobs.

Industries that shed jobs in January included transportation, warehousing and utilities, which lost a total of 900 jobs.

“It’s encouraging to see jobs finally coming back,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “I hope it signals the beginning of a job-full recovery, not a job-less recovery.”

Year over year, Washington had 107,800 fewer jobs in January than in January 2009, a 3.7 percent decrease. This is on par with national statistics, which show that employment has declined by 3 percent over the past year.

An estimated 359,500 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in January. More than 305,000 people received unemployment benefits from Washington state in January.

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