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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. 

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.