Washington state adds 7,700 jobs in April

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington state added 7,700 jobs last month and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent, according to a report released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department.

The latest numbers show that the job growth in April comes after a strong month in March, where upward revised numbers indicated a gain of 8,300 jobs. April's jobless rate also dipped down from March's 6.3 percent rate.

"We're moving into an expansionary phase," Paul Turek, a labor economist with the department, said in a written statement. "There were more jobs available, and more people got jobs. It's a positive trend."

Washington's unemployment rate is below the national rate of 6.3 percent for April. State officials say the unemployment rate in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area of western Washington dropped to 5 percent from March's rate of 5.2 percent.

The Employment Security Department estimates that more than 77,000 jobs have been added statewide during the one-year period ending in April. In April 2013, the state's unemployment rate was 7.1 percent.

The number of unemployed job seekers actively looking for work in the state dropped by 9,000 to 210,600 last month. Nearly 83,000 people claimed unemployment benefits in April.

The biggest job growth in April was seen in professional and business services, which added an estimated 2,000 jobs, of which 1,200 were in administrative and support services. Other areas that saw increases were retail, other services, construction, and private education and health services.

Sectors that saw job losses were in government, manufacturing and financial activities, which lost a total of 1,400 jobs. Mining and logging saw no change in employment last month.

Two different surveys are used to calculate unemployment figures and job losses and gains. The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively looking for work. People who have stopped looking for work are not counted. The job gains and losses estimates are based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of businesses.