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State Unemployment Lowest in Four Years

January 17, 2013

Washington’s estimated unemployment rate reached its lowest point in four years in December, at 7.6%, down from an adjusted rate of 7.7% in November.

While statewide unemployment numbers in November saw the largest one-month drop since 1977, Grays Harbor saw its number rise. We still show the second highest numbers in the state at 11.4%, an increase from 11.3% in October.

Looking back, in November of 2011, Grays Harbor showed an unemployment rate of 12.8%, compared to the 2010 rate of 12.6%. At the highest, Grays Harbor saw a rate of 15.7% in January and February 2010.

However, an Employment Security Department economist cautions that recent declines in the statewide unemployment rate have been due largely to a shrinking labor force, as unemployed job seekers stop looking for work or run out of unemployment benefits.

The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the labor force that’s unemployed and actively looking for work. People who do not use their services are not counted as part of the labor force when calculating the rate.

“Our population is growing and we’ve regained more than half of the jobs lost during the recession, but the number of people in the labor force has been declining,” said Joe Elling, chief labor economist for Employment Security.

In December, an estimated 262,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 148,000 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.

Also in December, 4,100 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits, bringing the total to 125,000 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.

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