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Wash. unemployment unchanged in August

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The unemployment rate held steady at 9-point-3 percent in Washington state in August. The state Employment Department released fresh jobs numbers Wednesday, a day after Oregon reported a slight uptick in its unemployment rate. Now it's at 9-point-6 percent.

In Washington, Employment Department chief economist Dave Wallace says the private sector statewide has added jobs for twelve months in a row now. But he says jobs need to be added at a faster pace to chip away at the unemployment rate.

"A lot of companies do have money. A lot of companies have gotten leaner during this period. So if they want to expand, they are going to have to hire. I think the fear of lack of consumer demand is what is keeping firms from hiring, fundamentally," Wallace said.

Wallace says the most notable job growth right now is happening in export-oriented industries such as aerospace manufacturing and food processing. The public sector continues to shed jobs especially in state government.

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Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.