Spokane County unemployment rate falls to 4.8% in June

Spokane County’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to a pre-pandemic low of 4.8% in June as nearly every industry sector experienced job growth, according to data from the Washington state Employment Security Department.

The Spokane metropolitan statistical area, which includes Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, added 3,400-nonfarm jobs and 3,100-private sector jobs in June, the department reported Tuesday.

The service-providing sector added the greatest number of jobs from May to June at 2,700. Those were followed by education and health services, which added 1,200 jobs.

The county remains about 1,000 jobs below the number of jobs in the area compared with June 2019, but the rate of job growth last month is staggering, said Doug Tweedy, an economist with the ESD.

“Of course, that’s compared with the pandemic and business lockdowns, but we are back to close to where we were in 2019, which was a record year for employment,” he said.

The construction, health care and social-assistance sectors each added 600 jobs last month. Retail trade added 400 jobs while leisure and hospitality added 200 jobs.

Leisure and hospitality and retail trade – which were two of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic – are nearing economic recovery as the sectors are 2,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels. Both industries had a combined total of 53,700 positions in June 2019.

The county’s unemployment rate was 4.6% in May of this year , but last year in June the rate had ballooned to 10.3%.

Fewer workers are filing jobless claims, signaling a bright spot for job growth in the county, Tweedy said.

“There are less people being laid off,” he said. “In fact, we are back to what we were in 2019.”

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