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Steady Job Gains Chip Away At Jobless Rate In Wash. State

Steady job gains are chipping away at the unemployment rate in Washington state. New numbers released by the Employment Department Wednesday show the statewide jobless rate dropped to 6.1 percent in April, down from 6.3 percent in March. 

The vast majority of new jobs are being created in the Seattle metro area. In the last reporting month, the jobless rate in 87 percent of Washington counties was higher than the national average.

State labor economist Paul Turek says from this point on in an economic recovery, he would expect the job growth to spread out more beyond greater Seattle.

"If things continue to progress and move along the lines that they have been moving on, then the thinking is that other regions will strengthen as well and participate in the economic gains that are occurring," Turek said.

Oregon saw even bigger job gains in March and April than Washington did. The latest numbers from the Oregon Employment Department show that/the state's jobless rate is still higher than its Northwest neighbors though. 

The Oregon statewide unemployment rate currently stands at 6.9 percent. For comparison, the national seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in April was 6.3 percent.

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.