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The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate didn’t budge in February, staying unchanged from January’s 6.4 percent, according to economists with the state’s Employment Security Department.
At the same time, job gains continue. Employers added an estimated 2,500 new jobs in February. Also, economists revised the January job estimate, boosting it by 2,000 to a total of 5,800 new jobs in the first month of the year.
The even unemployment rate combined with growth in payroll numbers indicate Washington’s economy remains in growth mode. The state’s total labor force of nearly 3.5 million also rose by about 10,000 people over the past month, economists said.
“That’s a positive sign. The economy is holding its own. People are moving into the job market and actually finding jobs,” said Paul Turek, an Employment Security labor economist.
The current 6.4-percent unemployment rate, unchanged over the past two months, is the state’s lowest since fall of 2008.
During the one-year period ending in February, the department estimates that 54,400 jobs were added statewide.
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, Turek said. 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 last month.