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Washington Jobless Rate At 6-Year Low, But Rural Counties Still Lag

Washington’s jobless rate has dropped to below 6 percent — the lowest level in six years, according to the June jobs report released Wednesday.

Seattle’s King County is leading the recovery, but most Washington counties remain above the statewide average. And some rural counties of the state are much higher.

As of May, two Washington counties still had jobless rates over 10-percent: Grays Harbor on the coast and Ferry County in northeast Washington.

That’s the part of the state Kerry Burke oversees. He’s a regional manager for Washington’s jobs program. Burke says King County’s job growth is actually good for the people in his rural pocket of the state.

“We can say, ‘King County is looking for workers. Would you want to consider that?’ That’s an option. The other side of that one is when King County starts showing good signs, our area eventually follows,” Burke said.

Burke says there are signs of a slow job recovery in northeast Washington. Unemployment is down nearly 10 points in Ferry County since the peak of joblessness in 2010. Meanwhile, Oregon’s unemployment rate held steady at around 7 percent in June.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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