PACIFIC COUNTY — The number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance in Pacific County fell to the lowest level in nearly three years in May, the latest sign that at least some aspects of the local economy are healing.

Only 117 people filed for unemployment last month, according to a report issued last week by the Washington Employment Security Department. That was down from 233 in April. The last time it was lower was in June 2008.

The number of continuing claims for unemployment was also down in May, to 343 compared to 440 in April and 495 in May 2010 and 718 in May 2009. Twenty-seven county residents exhausted their eligibility for jobless coverage last month, about average for the past year.

The county’s official unemployment rate, a mostly symbolic number based on statewide estimates, also fell in May to 12.5 percent, compared to 14 percent in April and 13.9 percent in May 2010.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was estimated at 9.1 percent, down slightly from April’s revised rate of 9.2 percent.

Industries that posted statewide gains in May were leisure and hospitality, up 3,200; professional and business services, up 900; construction, up 700; and government, up 200.

Jobs were lost in wholesale trade, down 2,100; retail trade, down 1,600; financial activities, down 900; transportation, warehousing and utilities, down 600; education and health services, down 300; and manufacturing, down 200.

Even with last month’s job losses, the state economy has added an estimated 52,400 jobs since the low point of the recession.

An estimated 306,919 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in May, and 208,582 people received unemployment benefits from Washington.

Employment Security is a partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which offers a variety of employment and training services for job seekers, including free help with interviewing skills, résumés and job referrals. WorkSource also can help employers recruit and screen for qualified workers, apply for employment tax breaks and qualify for subsidized employee training.

Locations of local WorkSource offices are listed online at www.go2worksource.com and in the blue pages of local telephone books. In addition, more than 26,000 job openings are posted online at www.go2worksource.com.

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