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Tourism, retail, construction bolster March employment

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The unemployment rate in Chelan and Douglas counties declined 0.5 of a percentage point between March 2013 and March 2014.

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WENATCHEE — Construction, tourism and retail continued in March to boost employment for Chelan and Douglas counties and help shrink the jobless rate here for the 22nd straight month.

The state Employment Security Department reported Friday that the unemployment rate for the two-county area fell to 8 percent, a 0.5 percentage point decrease from March 2013.

State Regional Labor Economist Don Meseck in Yakima said optimism in the Wenatchee housing market combined with good weather helped lift the construction sector by 10.5 percent (200 jobs) in March over the same month last year. Tourism grew by 8.2 percent (400 jobs) and retail by 5.5 percent (300 jobs).

Government sectors showed the largest losses, with the number of federal workers declining 12.5 percent (100 jobs) and state workers dropping 8.3 percent (100 jobs). Manufacturing in the two-county area also remained flat with no change from March of last year.

Meseck said state government jobs in Chelan and Douglas counties stagnated or declined, year over year, for the last 16 months, while state government employment statewide increased through March for 20 straight months.

 

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.