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Originally published May 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM | Page modified May 15, 2014 at 7:11 PM

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State unemployment hits lowest rate since Great Recession

The Washington economy’s job engine revved up in April, pushing the state unemployment rate to a post-recessionary low of 6.1 percent, data released Wednesday show.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Two months into her job search, former Microsoft employee Mi Hausvater acknowledges, “I’m a little surprised.”

She figured she’d have to be patient in today’s post-recession economy. But soon, her phone started ringing with calls from prospective employers. “I thought it would take a lot longer to get the ball rolling,” said Hausvater, 31, of Redmond, who works in training and development. “This past month has been pretty good. I see a lot of postings for the types of positions I’m looking for.”

A new jobs report confirms her belief that the employment outlook is steadily improving.

The Washington unemployment rate dropped to a post-recessionary low of 6.1 percent in April as the economy created 7,700 new jobs during the month, the state Employment Security Department said Wednesday.

That followed a revised gain of 8,300 jobs in March, bringing the state’s monthly average growth so far this year to 6,900. The economy now is adding jobs at a level not seen since 2005, when employers created roughly 7,000 jobs a month.

“We’re moving into an expansionary phase,” said Paul Turek, a state labor economist for Employment Security. “There were more jobs available, and more people got jobs. It’s a positive trend.”

A brightening employment picture drew Hausvater and about 80 other people to a job fair Wednesday at the Redmond Library. They received advice from corporate recruiters on everything from how to get a résumé noticed to what to wear to a job interview — men, skip the tie if that makes you comfortable.

Tina Estes, who recently lost a job as an office manager at an assisted-living facility in Bothell, came to the job fair armed with a dozen résumés and an optimistic outlook.

“I was functioning with a résumé format that was 25 years old, so I needed to get with the program. I spent the past week updating my résumé and LinkedIn profile,” Estes said. “The whole process has become so strategic and technical. You have to really market yourself to get an edge.”

April’s jobless rate of 6.1 percent was down from 6.3 percent a month earlier. Not since October 2008, when a collapse of the U.S. financial industry caused massive job loss, has unemployment been so low.

Joblessness in the Seattle metro area, which includes Bellevue and Everett, also declined two-tenths of a percentage point in April, to 5.0 percent.

As usual, Seattle accounted for most of the state’s job growth, with 7,100 of the 7,700 total coming from King and Snohomish counties alone.

“We’re continuing to come back from the Great Recession — no question,” said Marlena Sessions, CEO of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, which sponsored the Redmond job fair.

“We see upticks virtually everywhere,” especially in the health-care and technology sectors, she said. “Boeing is hiring some assembly people again, so that’s really helping, too.”

In another positive sign, more people jump-started their job searches amid evidence that the recovery finally has taken hold.

The state labor force, which includes those who are working and those actively seeking work, increased by about 5,000 people in April to nearly 3.5 million. At the same time, there were 9,000 fewer unemployed job seekers last month.

Demand was strongest among the state’s administrative and support-services employers, with 1,200 jobs added in April. An estimated 800 jobs also were created in the professional, scientific and technical field.

Other industries that showed solid job growth include construction, retail, and private education and health services. On the downside, government, manufacturing and financial activities shed a combined 1,400 jobs last month.

The drop in state and local unemployment was in line with the national trend: The U.S. jobless rate fell to 6.3 percent in April from 6.7 percent a month earlier.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @amyemartinez



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