“Washington’s unemployment rate inched up one tenth of a percentage point to 4.4 percent in September, higher, but staying close to the historic lows of the last two years, according to Employment Security Commissioner Carver Gayton.“Seasonal patterns drove much of the economy, with tourism fading and schools reopening,” Gayton said. “The seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose from 4.7 percent to 5.0 percent while the comparable national average held flat at 4.2 percent.”Total nonfarm wage and salary employment increased by 22,100 workers, slightly less than the 24,400 recorded in the same month one-year ago. The opening of schools generated 24,000 additional jobs, with the rest of the economy dropping by 1,900.Manufacturing payrolls fell overall by 1,100, according to Dennis Fusco, chief economist for the department.“Seasonal gains in food processing were offset by reductions in aircraft and parts,” Fusco said. “Additional losses came in lumber and wood products, computer and office equipment, and textiles and apparel.”Small upturns were noted in electronics, fabricated metals, and stone, clay, and glass.Construction posted a seasonal reduction of 500, with most of the drawdown centered in housing, down 300, and special trades, also down 300. Wholesale and retail trade rose by 400, led by gains in nondurable wholesaling, up 1,100, and general merchandising, up 600.Losses were reported in building materials and garden supplies, down 400, apparel and accessories, down 600, and eating and drinking places, down 300.Services employment advanced by 5,300, with most of the increase taking place in private education, social service, and amusement and recreation. Hotels and lodging places dropped by 1,000, while business services was flat.Over the year, manufacturing payrolls in the state were down 18,800, with much of the shortfall concentrated in aircraft and parts, down 18,100. Forest products employment was off 1,500.Increases were posted in industrial machinery, up 400, fabricated metals, up 300, and fruit and vegetable processing, up 1,000. Construction added 8,700, and wholesale and retail trade advanced by 15,700.Services employment rose by 24,600, with strong growth experienced in business services, up 8,800, social services, up 3,100, and health care, up 3,500.Total nonfarm wage and salary employment adjusted in collaboration with the Office of the Forecast Council was up 46,800 or 1.8 percent for the year.Unemployment crept back up to an even 11 percent in Columbia County, in eastern Washington, the only county in the state with an unadjusted rate over 10 percent in September.Whitman County posted an enviable 1.4 percent not seasonally adjusted rate, with San Juan County following at 2.5 percent. East of the Cascades, Garfield and Asotin counties both posted 2.7 percent rates.King County had a 3.3 percent rate for September, with Pierce County at 4.5 percent, Thurston at 4.5 percent, Mason at 5.6 percent and Kitsap County at 5.2 percent.The total labor force for Washington during September equaled 3,088,300, with 2,951,600 employed. The total labor force is up from September figures from 1998 of 3,031,300, with 2,900,400 employed, though unemployment is up one-tenth of a percent from last year.The Pierce County area reported a workforce of 336,000, with 320,800 employed, and a corresponding one-tenth of a percent rise in not seasonally adjusted unemployment.Thurston County reported a labor force of 101,100, with 96,600 employed and an unemployment rate down three-tenths of a percent from the same time last year.Pierce County’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment figures for September showed a net decline in manufacturing of 1,900 jobs from last September. Most manufacturing categories were down, with the strongest loss in durable products manufacturing, led by lumber and wood products, down 400, machinery, computers, electronic and electrical equipment, down 400, and other durable manufacturing, down 300.Services producing employment was up 5,700 from last year’s comparative figures, reaching 202,600, up 2,800 from this August’s total of nearly 200,000. Eating and drinking places and other retail trade remained level from one year ago, with a loss of 400 positions during the year for the department, apparel and accessory stores category, but strong increases in all other areas of wholesale and retail trade.Services gained 3,200 positions over one year ago, and 1,900 positions in one month. Business services gained 1,100 positions, and other services rose 2,300, while other categories reported mixed results.”
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