LONG BEACH - Pacific County's jobs situation continued to improve in September, with ongoing claims for unemployment insurance falling to their lowest level since fall 2008.

The number of people drawing unemployment plunged from 455 in August to 278 in September, according to data released Wednesday by the Washington Employment Security Department. This is less than 40 percent of the number who were getting unemployment at the start of 2010.

The number of initial jobless claims also edged downward, to 173 in September, compared to 185 in August. It has ranged as high as nearly 600 during some months in the past two years.

And only 27 people ran out of jobless benefits in September, compared to 44 in August and 39 in September 2009.

The county's non-farm unemployment rate was estimated to be 10.1 percent in September, compared to a revised August number of 11.2 percent. September's rate was the lowest since December 2009 and was a percentage point better than in September 2009.

State statisticians say the county had 5,690 non-farm jobs in September, down 20 from August but up 20 from September 2009. The size of the county labor force has shrunk by nearly 600 since the onset of the recession.

Statewide, the unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in September, down from 8.9 percent in August and 10.2 percent at the start of the year.

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