Washington‘s unemployment rate jumped to 9.5 percent in December, up half a percentage point from the month before, state officials said Tuesday.. November’s unemployment rate, originally reported at 9.2 percent, was later revised down to 9 percent.

Washington‘s unemployment rate jumped to 9.5 percent in December, up half a percentage point from the month before, state officials said Tuesday..

 

November’s unemployment rate, originally reported at 9.2 percent, was later revised down to 9 percent.

 

Dave Wallace, chief economist with the Employment Security Department, said that despite the month-to-month rise in unemployment, there was some good news: the 23,700 jobs lost in the last six months of 2009 were notably less than the 80,000 job losses in the first six months of the year.

 

“Employment is a lagging economic indicator, so coming out of a recession, it is typical for jobs to be the last thing to return,” he said. “But overall, job losses are clearly trending downward, and that’s a positive sign.”

 

Until last month, the state’s jobless rate had hovered around 9 percent since summer, and Arun Raha, the state’s chief economist, has said he expects it to peak at about 9.8 percent in the spring. The national unemployment rate for December was 10 percent.

 

Washington has lost more than 106,000 jobs since December 2008, a 3.6 percent decrease. Nationally, employment declined by 3.1 percent during the same time.

 

Construction lost the most jobs last month, down about 1,900. Government lost 1,500 jobs, financial activities was down 800, transportation, warehousing and utilities were down 700, and manufacturing was down 400.

 

The biggest job gains were seen in education and health services, up 800, and professional and business services, up 700. Leisure and hospitality gained 500 jobs last month, while retail trade was up 400.

 

State officials said more than 334,000 people were unemployed and looking for work last month.

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