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New Data Points Show 'Soft Patch' in Hiring, Slow Overall Growth

Washington state hit a soft patch in hiring and saw slow overall growth, according to two new data points released Wednesday.

Washington state's unemployment rate essentially held steady at 7 percent from August through October. Federal government furloughs delayed the release of the data last month, which resulted in the release of two sets this month.

State labor economist Paul Turek noted an unexpected slowdown in hiring last month, which came at a point in the recovery where he would've expected strengthening.

The state's chief revenue forecaster Steve Lerch separately presented a flat outlook to a legislative panel Wednesday.

"We're at sort of slow, steady growth, whether we are talking about the national economy or the state economy,” Lerch said. “There are all sorts of things out there that raise concerns and mean that there is some uncertainty.”

Lerch said those risk factors include slowdowns in China, dysfunction in Washington, D.C., housing affordability, and ongoing worries about Europe's recovery.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.