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Originally published April 14, 2009 at 10:17 AM | Page modified April 15, 2009 at 9:22 AM

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Washington's jobless rate jumps to 9.2%

Washington state's jobless rate took its third big jump in a row last month, as employers sliced another 20,000 jobs from their payrolls.

Seattle Times business reporter

Washington's jobless rate took its third big jump in a row last month, as employers sliced another 20,000 jobs from their payrolls.

The state unemployment rate for March was 9.2 percent, up from a revised 8.3 percent in February, according to the state Employment Security Department. More than 344,000 Washingtonians reported being out of work last month — almost twice as many as did so a year ago.

The jobless rate also leaped in the Seattle metro area, to a seasonally adjusted 8.1 percent, from a revised 7.6 percent in February.

Employers in the current recession have been far quicker to cut workers than in the past. A year ago, unemployment statewide stood at 4.8 percent; as recently as December it was a relatively modest 6.5 percent.

But for each of the past three months, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has risen by 0.5 percentage point or more — what the department called "a radically different series of events for the state."

Weakness was widespread throughout the state's economy, with no significant job growth in any industry or sector. The brightest, or rather least dim, employment sectors were clothing stores (up 700 jobs last month), general merchandise stores and local government (up 600 jobs each).

But those glimmers were overshadowed by heavy losses in other areas of the economy. Construction shed 5,100 jobs in March; financial services was down 1,800 jobs; bars and restaurants cut 2,000 jobs; and health and social services were off 1,400 jobs. Aerospace lost 500 more jobs last month.

Without adjusting for seasonal variations, Ferry County had the state's highest unemployment rate in March, 17.2 percent. Whitman County, at 5.8 percent, had the lowest rate.

Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or ddesilver@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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