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State's jobless rate shoots up to 8.4% in February
More than 28,000 payroll jobs evaporated from the Washington economy last month, helping to send the state's unemployment rate to 8.4 percent — its highest level since June 1985.
Seattle Times business reporter
More than 28,000 payroll jobs evaporated from the Washington economy last month, helping to send the state's unemployment rate to its highest level since June 1985.
Adjusted for seasonal variations, the jobless rate shot up to 8.4 percent in February, the state Employment Security Department reported today. That's six-tenths of a percentage point higher than January's rate of 7.8 percent, and well above the national unemployment rate of 8.1 percent.
Just a year earlier, the state unemployment rate stood at 4.7 percent — clear evidence of how quickly Washington has been gripped by the recession.
In the Seattle metro area, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate jumped to 7.8 percent, from 6.7 percent in January and 4.1 percent in February 2008.
All in all, 330,570 Washingtonians reported being out of work last month.
The national recession began in December 2007, but Washington's nonfarm payroll employment — often considered a better gauge of the local jobs picture than the unemployment rate — peaked in February 2008. Since then, state payrolls have shed a seasonally adjusted 97,100 jobs, for a 3.3 percent decline.
By contrast, in the first 12 months of the downturn that followed the tech collapse in 2000, state payrolls fell by 2.6 percent, or 70,300 jobs.
Few industrial sectors escaped the tide of job cuts. Durable-goods manufacturing lost 1,900 jobs in February, 300 of them in aerospace. Retailers cut 1,000 jobs; construction fell by 4,200 jobs; administrative and support services was down 8,900 jobs.
Among the few bright spots: Telecommunications added 300 jobs, software publishers 100 jobs, and financial services gained 1,200 jobs.
Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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