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Originally published August 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 15, 2007 at 2:04 AM

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Jobless rate up in state, down in Seattle

Washington's unemployment rate rose to 4. 9 percent in July as more jobless workers resumed their search for employment, but it remains...

The Associated Press

Washington's unemployment rate rose to 4.9 percent in July as more jobless workers resumed their search for employment, but it remains at near-record lows and even dropped in the Seattle area.

The state's latest figure compares with 4.5 percent a month earlier. The modern record for low unemployment, 4.4 percent, was set in April. The state's rate was 5 percent one year ago.

The national unemployment rate is 4.6 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area was 3.9 percent last month, down from 4.0 percent in June.

State employers added 7,800 jobs last month, seasonally adjusted, on top of 6,000 new hires in June. But the unemployment rate nonetheless rose because the overall size of the labor market grew as more people were looking for work.

About 168,000 people are out of work, counting those who have re-entered the job market. That's up from about 152,000 the previous month.

The Employment Security Department characterized it as a slight increase in the unemployment rate, and said the state still is enjoying near-historic lows in the jobless rate.

"Washington's economy is still going strong and that is reflected in the number of people who want to join the work force and in the number of new jobs being created," said Gov. Christine Gregoire.

"We are seeing all parts of the state benefit from this continued growth."

Agency Director Karen Lee noted that Washington employers added about 7,800 net new workers last month, bringing the 12-month total to more than 89,000.

"The higher unemployment rate during these strong economic times shows that more people are getting out there and looking for jobs," she said. in a statement released with the data.

Industries with the largest gains last month were government, with 2,600 new jobs; professional and business services, 1,500; and manufacturing, 1,000.

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Construction companies hired an additional 500 workers. Payrolls haven't declined here since July 2006, despite a national slowdown in construction since February.

Layoffs were reported in leisure and hospitality, down 700 jobs; retail trade, down 200; and education and health services, down 100.

In the past year, nonagricultural job growth has risen by 3.1 percent, compared with a national increase of 1.4 percent.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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