OLYMPIA - Washington's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January fell eight-tenths of 1 percentage point, from a sharply revised 7.3 percent in December to 6.5 percent, Employment Security Commissioner Sylvia P. Mundy announced. The nation's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.7 percent. Washington's nonadjusted unemployment rate remained at December's upwardly revised 7.2 percent.

Pacific County stayed even with an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent. Wahkiakum County posted a gain up to 7.3 percent from 6 percent in December.

"January continued a mild but positive trend in our job market," said Mundy. "While the preliminary unemployment rate estimate may overstate the case, the overall employment and unemployment numbers reflect a continuing improvement that began in the fall. The household survey data reveal that nearly 45,000 jobs have been created in the past year."

Washington's nonagricultural wage and salary employment decreased by 57,000 jobs over the month. Expected seasonal layoffs dominated the declines with all major sectors shedding jobs: construction (-7,500), manufacturing (-3,000), wholesale trade (-1,800), retail trade (-15,800), transportation and warehousing (-1,900), information(-1,000), financial activities (-1,200), professional and business services (-5,900), education and health services (-3,600), leisure and hospitality (-7,500), and government (-6,200).

While generally all sectors decline at this time of year, many sectors declined by less than expected. Manufacturing, for example, fell by 3,000 compared to last year's drop of 7,100, an improvement driven by fewer layoffs in aerospace manufacturing. Computer and electronic production added about 100 jobs when moderate layoffs were expected, indicating that things may be turning around in that industry. Food and beverage firms let go fewer workers this year than expected (-1,100), reflecting fewer seasonal hires than expected.

However, some sectors laid off more workers than expected. Financial activities-related business actually dropped 1,200 positions this year compared to an increase of 800 last year, which may augur the end of the home refinancing boom. Wholesale trade also dropped jobs at a rate greater than last year, down 1,800 versus 1,000.

Over the year, jobs were up by 20,400, for an increase of 0.8 percent.

The job losses in manufacturing are down to 11,600, the lowest year-over-year change since before the recession started. Most major industries were up over the year, except for leisure and hospitality, which lost 400 jobs, and information, which was flat over the year.

Employment Security encourages the 225,600 unemployed workers in Washington to visit a WorkSource center and take advantage of WorkSource's online job listings and other services at

(www.go2worksource.com)

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