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Wash. Unemployment Rate Unchanged At 7.5 Percent

By RACHEL LA CORTE

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) â¿¿ Washington gained 4,000 jobs in February and unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.5 percent, new numbers released Wednesday show.

Economists with the state Employment Security Department said that overall, the state has added about 65,000 jobs over the past year, regaining about 70 percent of the more than 200,000 jobs lost during the recession.

"February was relatively uneventful," department economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman said in a prepared news release. "The job growth was close to the monthly average for the past year, with no big surprises."

The unemployment rate in Washington state in February 2012 was 8.4 percent.

Industries that saw the most growth included education and health services, up 3,000 jobs, manufacturing, up 2,900 and professional and business services, which gained 1,200 jobs.

Construction saw a loss of 3,600 jobs, leisure and hospitality, was down 1,100 and transportation, warehousing and utilities lost 400.

Earlier this month, state economists reported that new numbers showed the state gained 24,100 jobs for the month of January, a number they expected would later be revised down. But Wednesday's report revised that number up to 24,200 jobs.

The national unemployment rate for February was 7.7 percent.

An estimated 259,100 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in February, including nearly 140,000 who claimed unemployment benefits.

More than 3,300 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits last month. A total of 132,165 people have exhausted their benefits since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.

___

Follow Rachel La Corte at http://www.twitter.com/RachelAPOly or http://www.facebook.com/news.rachel

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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