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.”

Spokane County’s nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5% in May, suggesting jobs in some industries are returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The county’s unemployment rate last month was at its lowest since December 2019, when the unemployment rate was 4.8%, according to data from the Washington state Employment Security Department.

The Spokane metropolitan statistical area, which includes Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, added 2,600 nonfarm jobs and 2,500 private sector jobs from April to May, according to the department.

The service providing sector added the greatest number of jobs with 2,300 in May. The leisure and hospitality sector – one of the hardest hit by the pandemic – added 1,500 jobs last month.

The leisure and hospitality sector, with 24,000 total jobs last month, has nearly recovered the number of positions it had prior to the pandemic. The sector had 24,500 jobs in May 2019.

For comparison, the leisure and hospitality sector had 16,400 jobs in May 2020.

The food services and drinking places sector added 700 jobs, while construction and education and health services sectors each added 300 jobs. Jobs in retail trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and finance and insurance held steady.

The county’s unemployment rate was 12.7% in May 2020. It was 6.1% in April.

The state’s nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.3% in May.Amy Edelen can be reached at (509) 459-5581 or at [email protected]

For industries nationwide, recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is a “tale of two economies,” said Steve Scranton, chief investment officer and economist for Washington Trust Bank.

Scranton spoke Friday at a Greater Spokane Incorporated virtual event that was attended by 220 people.

In his “macro view” of the economy, he said those who can work remotely and those businesses in manufacturing and construction likely will fare well.

“In fact, it might even be going great for you,” Scranton said. “But, if you are in a job where you actually have to be on site, be able to serve your customers, you’re saying this still is not a good situation and when is it going to get better?”

Spokane and Coeur d’Alene both made significant progress in workforce recovery, but the cities differ in stages of regaining jobs, Scranton said.

Coeur d’Alene recovered 102.9% of its jobs in February, compared to February 2020, in part because Idaho reopened businesses faster than Washington following coronavirus-related shutdowns, Scranton said.

Spokane recovered 94.5% of jobs lost due to the pandemic in February, compared with February 2020.

Construction, education and health services, and professional and business services led job recovery in February in Spokane, Scranton said.

Leisure and hospitality continues to struggle with job recovery and that’s occurring nationwide. In Spokane, the leisure and hospitality sector regained 73% of its jobs in February compared to the same time last year, he said.

“So that’s where it’s really critical, again, the sooner we can lift restrictions, we’ll see more recovery in the leisure and hospitality sector,” he said. “But really until we fully lift them, we won’t know what the full story is there.

“We won’t know the final damage, what type of scarring has happened to our economy, both in Spokane, the state of Washington and the U.S. as a whole, until we fully lift the restrictions and we discover how many of those closed doors were temporary and reopened or were permanently closed.”

Scranton predicts short-term interest rates will remain low and long-term rates will be volatile.

Remote workers will be a boon for Spokane’s economy and tax base long term. Although the recent influx of new residents has increased demand on the region’s housing market, the surge is expected to be temporary, Scranton said.

“I think that it’s going to be a stress on our infrastructure for the near term,” Scranton said, referring to the area’s population increase. “But long term, I think that it’s very positive for Spokane to have a bigger population, and a more diversified population for jobs and everything else.”

The national economy is set to surge in 2021 due to federal spending that’s occurring and businesses reopening, Scranton said, adding the economy could level off in 2022, depending on what occurs with President Biden’s infrastructure plan.

“I think we should all enjoy it, benefit from it,” Scranton said, referring to this year’s potential economic growth. “But don’t plan for that to be the norm. Plan for the two