Spokane County's unemployment rate of 3.5% in September matches historic low

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Oct. 27—Spokane County's preliminary unemployment rate dropped in September to match a historic low of 3.5% as the region continued to recover jobs lost since the pandemic's onset in 2020.

Spokane County gained 2,900 jobs from August to September, said Doug Tweedy, a regional economist with the Washington state Employment Security Department.

"We lost 26,000 jobs in April 2020 with the first stay-at-home order. Just about every month since then we've seen job increases," he said. "Over half of the jobs were considered essential, and we are a regional hub. Those two things have put Spokane in a good position."

The greatest number of job gains last month were in the construction, manufacturing, health care and education sectors, Tweedy said.

The education sector gained 1,900 jobs from August to September, while health care gained 500 jobs. The construction sector added 400 jobs, and manufacturing added 300 last month.

Employment levels in other sectors mostly held steady last month.

September's rate equaled the county's non-seasonally adjusted record low unemployment rate of 3.5% in October 1997, according to ESD data.

While the county's unemployment rate at its historic low in September, the numbers are preliminary and will likely be revised, Tweedy said.

Spokane County's labor market has mostly recovered jobs lost during the pandemic, primarily fueled by an uptick in activity in the transportation and warehousing sector, which includes companies such as Amazon, FedEx and UPS, Tweedy said.

"That was a high hotspot in our economy, and those jobs continue to increase," Tweedy said.

However, supply chain challenges and increasing cost of child care could have an impact future job gains in the county's manufacturing sector, Tweedy said.

The county's unemployment rate was 4.5% in August and 7.5% in September 2020.

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