Washington's February unemployment stays at 6.4 percent

No month-to-month change was reported in Washington state’s unemployment rate in February, which was estimated at 6.4 percent, the same level from January, according to the state’s Employment Security Department.

Labor economists said the steady jobless rate coupled with new job gains and an expanding labor force—they estimate Washington’s employers added 2,500 jobs in February; the labor force rose by about 10,000 over the previous month—are positive signs of growth in the state’s economy.

The 6.4 percent unemployment rate, which is seasonally adjusted, is the state’s lowest since fall 2008.

Economists estimated that during a one-year period ending in February, Washington added 54,400 jobs. They also revised a job gains estimate from January of this year, boosting it by 2,000 to bring the total gains for that month up to 5,800.

In February, the most jobs were added in the professional and business services sector, with an increase of 2,200 jobs. Notable gains in this area of the economy occurred in architecture and engineering services and in administrative and support positions, both positive signs, according to Paul Turek, a labor economist with the Employment Security Department.

Jobs also increased in retail trade, up 1,700; financial activities, largely in mortgage servicing and insurance, up 1,000; government, up 600; manufacturing, up 500; information, up 300; and wholesale trade, up 100.

The biggest job losses in February were private education and health services, which lost an estimated 2,100 jobs. Other sectors reporting lost jobs included construction, down 600 jobs; transportation, warehousing and utilities, down 500; other services, a miscellaneous category, down 300 jobs; and mining and logging, down 100 jobs.

In February, an estimated 219,700 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 96,035 who claimed unemployment benefits that month.

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