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OLYMPIA, WA-The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by six tenths of a percentage point to 7% in October, its highest seasonally adjusted level since January, according to the latest report from the Washington State Employment Security Department. The rate is one full point higher than the nation’s seasonally adjusted average, which declined by one-tenth of a percentage point to 6%.

Non-agricultural employment in the state increased by 14,000 jobs over the month. Much of the rise is due to seasonal gains in education, up 14,700 jobs at the state level and 14,600 jobs at the local level. The gains were offset by seasonal layoffs in other industries, including construction (-1,700); manufacturing (-2,900); and leisure and hospitality (-10,600).

Financial services, some of the only positive growth in past months, fell by 500 jobs during the month, in part due to a fall off in refinancing and home sales activity. Trade and information were little changed over the month, while the transportation and warehousing industry was up by 700 jobs. Temporary help firms added 900 jobs, possibly an early signal that firms may not be able to meet current demand without increasing their workforce, according to Employment Security Commissioner Sylvia P. Mundy.

“The new state unemployment data reflects the good news at the national level,” says Mundy. “Although we are still a long way from a full-scale labor market recovery, there has been a significant improvement over the month.”

Over the year, non-agricultural employment is up 8,000 jobs. This is the first over-the-year increase after three months of declines and is the largest over the year increase since January 2003, according to the report.

The over-the-year loss of manufacturing jobs stands at 14,900 jobs, with aerospace manufacturing the biggest culprit, down by 9,500 jobs over the year. Aerospace accounted for 64 percent of manufacturing job loss in October, compared to 58% in January.

Retail trade is up over the year, as is construction, financial activities, professional and business services, health and educational services, leisure and hospitality, and government. The information sector is still down due to job losses in telecommunications. The transportation and warehousing industry is down due mainly to air transportation.

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