Wash. unemployment rate drops to 8.2 percent

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Associated Press

Posted on November 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state's unemployment rate has dropped to 8.2 percent and the state netted a gain of 6,700 jobs last month, state officials said Thursday.

Officials said the drop from September's 8.5 percent rate was just a preliminary estimate and may be revised as more data comes in. But Joe Elling, chief labor economist for the Employment Security Department, said in a statement announcing the numbers that the "overall direction is positive."

"We're on a steady growth track," he said during a call with reporters Thursday.

The private sector added an estimated 9,600 jobs in October, while the government saw a loss of 2,900 jobs.

Industries that saw the strongest job gains last month included retail trade, which was up 3,300 jobs; professional and business services, which added 1,900 jobs; and financial activities, which was up 1,800 jobs. Construction and manufacturing each added 1,400 jobs.

"The increase in construction is consistent with what we're seeing on the homebuilding side, with residential permits," Elling said.

Besides government, the biggest losses were seen in leisure and hospitality, which lost 1,700 jobs, and wholesale trade, which was down by 500 jobs.

Elling said the manufacturing industry has seen strong job growth since the end of the recession, especially in aerospace. The state's manufacturing industry has seen a net gain of about 31,000 jobs since February 2010, with more than half of them in aerospace, officials said.

Officials say about 286,000 people were unemployed and looking for work in the state in October, with more than 124,000 claiming unemployment benefits.

Nearly 3,600 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits last month. A total of 115,947 people have exhausted their benefits since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.

Washington's jobless rate is still higher than the national rate, which was 7.9 percent last month.

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