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State’s jobless rate eases to 8.2 percent

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OLYMPIA — Washington state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 8.2 percent and the state netted a gain of 6,700 jobs last month, state officials reported Thursday.

Officials said the drop from September’s 8.5 percent rate was just a preliminary estimate and may be revised as more data comes in. But Joe Elling, chief labor economist for the Employment Security Department, said in a statement announcing the numbers that the “overall direction is positive.”

We’re on a steady growth track,” he said during a call with reporters Thursday.

The private sector added an estimated 9,600 jobs in October, while the government saw a loss of 2,900 jobs.

Industries that saw the strongest job gains last month included retail trade, which was up 3,300 jobs; professional and business services, which added 1,900 jobs; and financial activities, which was up 1,800 jobs. Construction and manufacturing each added 1,400 jobs.

The increase in construction is consistent with what we’re seeing on the homebuilding side, with residential permits,” Elling said.