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Wash. Job Growth Slowed, But Unemployment Rate Holding Steady

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
FILE - In this March 1, 2011 photo, Mariam Bario, recently relocated to Seattle from Kenya, fills out an application with others at a job fair, in SeaTac, Washington.

The unemployment rate in Washington state is holding steady at 6.1 percent, according to the latest numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Department.

State labor economist Paul Turek says the pace of job gains slowed down in the month of May, but Washington is still on course to record the strongest year of employment growth since the Great Recession.

"You may recall our state was able to reclaim the total number of jobs that were lost to the recession by the beginning of this year. Across the nation, that did not happen until this month, so we are a bit ahead of the curve with respect to other states,” Turek said.

Turek says a deep dive into the state stats reveals the fortunes of the long-term unemployed are improving a bit. Many of these jobless people have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Talk in Congress of extending those benefits has died down this spring.

In Oregon, the statewide unemployment rate also held steady last month. The state Department of Labor on Tuesday pegged its rate at 6.9 percent. The jobless rate in Oregon has hovered around that number since the beginning of the year. 

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.

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