OLYMPIA -- The state's unemployment rate fell for the third straight month, dropping to 8.9 percent in June.
State officials said this week that the jobless rate dropped 0.3 percentage point from May's revised rate of 9.2 percent.
June's unemployment rate is the lowest the state has seen since April 2009, and it remains lower than the national rate, which was 9.5 percent for June.
In the Tri-Cities, the unemployment rate declined to 6.2 percent -- not seasonally adjusted -- in June from a revised unemployment rate of 7 percent in May.
Also, nonfarm jobs continue to grow in the Tri-Cities, said regional labor economist Ajsa Suljic. June saw an addition of 900 jobs, primarily in professional and business services, and in the retail, leisure, hospitality and food sectors. The monthly gains also included about 100 new construction jobs. And over the year, the area gained 3,000 new jobs, largely with the help of Hanford-affiliated companies.
That is helping bring down the unemployment rate in Benton and Franklin counties despite an increase in the number of workers, Suljic said.
Last month, the number of workers was a record 141,140. That shows the labor force grew on average 1.7 percent a month since January, she said. It also reflects a good seasonal economic growth.
In June, there were 8,760 unemployed workers in contrast to 9,400 unemployed workers in May when local work force stood at 133,410.
The increased labor participation rate means many employers are hiring and many discouraged workers are coming back to the labor force and finding work, Suljic said.
Growth of about 1,000 jobs in the retail industry since June 2009 reflects consumers are spending again. The trade, transportation and warehousing sector helped create 300 new jobs in the same 12-month period when the Tri-Cities lost about 600 jobs in construction and 100 jobs in manufacturing.
June also saw a decline in local federal employment as temporary Census jobs came to an end for many. There also were fewer state jobs as schools and colleges cut back employees during the annual summer recess.
But more than 17,800 workers held agricultural jobs last month as warm weather prompted food growers to hire more, an increase of more than 59 percent since May. The state added about 4,500 private-sector jobs last month but registered a net loss of 3,500 jobs because 8,000 government jobs were eliminated. About half of those jobs were temporary work for the U.S. Census.
In addition to government, other industries that lost jobs in June were: financial activities, down 500; wholesale trade, which lost 300; and transportation, warehousing and utilities, which shed 100.
Eight industries added jobs in June, including: education and health services, which added 1,300; construction, up 1,000; retail trade added 900; professional and business services was up 700; leisure and hospitality increased by 700; other services was up 400; information increased by 300; and manufacturing was up 100.
Washington had 17,000 fewer jobs last month than it did in June 2009.
More than 308,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work, and more than 254,000 people received unemployment benefits from the state in June.