Wash. Unemployment Rate At 8.2%

Mar 21, 2012

Improvements to Washington’s job market will likely mean a shrink in unemployment benefits. Last month the state added an estimated 4,200 jobs, improving the unemployment rate by .2% since January. It’s now at 8.2%.

Because of the improvements, those claiming unemployment will have less benefits options. The maximum time to receive benefits is currently 99 weeks, and that will drop to 73 weeks. Emergency unemployment compensation will be cut to three payment tiers, instead of the four currently in place. Senior Labor Economist David Wallace says these programs are triggered by unemployment rates, so more jobs means less benefits.

“But it’s right in line with what we’re seeing at the national level. 17 of the last 18 months have been growth. It’s not a champagne, popping the corks kind of a thing, but it’s certainly a continuation of a trend.”

Wallace says two industries grew significantly. Leisure and hospitality, and construction brought in half of the added jobs. The state saw losses, too, particularly in government jobs and manufacturing.

Copyright 2011 Spokane Public Radio