State unemployment rate inches up to 7.8 percent

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 7.8 percent in January, up from December’s rate of 7.1 percent, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The rate usually is supplied each month by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics . However, BLS data for January has been delayed due to a computer project, so Employment Security calculated the number using a computer model that historically has closely matched the official number.

In January, the state lost an estimated 7,000 non-agricultural jobs, seasonally adjusted.

Industries with the most job growth included merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods, with 1,000 new jobs, general merchandise retail stores, which added 1,100 jobs, real estate and rental leasing, up 800 jobs, and arts, entertainment and recreation, with 1,100 new jobs.

Job losses were seen in most industries, but the largest declines were in manufacturing, which cut 4,900 jobs, information services, down 3,300 jobs, construction, down 2,400 jobs, motor vehicles and parts dealers, down 1,400, truck transportation, down 1,300, merchant wholesalers of durable goods, down 1,000, computer-system design and related services, down 1,000, and accommodation and food services, which lost 900 jobs.

Year over year, Washington had 56,000 fewer jobs last month than in January 2008, a 1.9 percent decrease. Nationally, employment declined by 2.9 percent over the past year.

An estimated 303,570 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in January – the largest number ever in this state.

“These are rough times for the unemployed, but it’s also an opportunity to get some training for a new career,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “Everyone who has lost a job recently should check with WorkSource to see if they qualify for any of our training assistance programs.”

For example, someone laid off from a “declining industry” may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, tuition assistance and other aid to retrain for another occupation. Lee noted that, in this recession, more and more occupations are being added to the declining-industries lists.

Job seekers can find out about training programs and get help looking for work at Employment Security’s affiliated WorkSource offices across the state, where a variety of employment services are offered, including free help with interviewing skills or résumés and with job referrals. In addition, nearly 15,000 current job openings are posted on

Locations of local WorkSource offices are listed in the blue pages of telephone books and online at Assistance also is available by phone at 877-872-5627.

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