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Unemployment rates fall throughout eastern Washington

Courtesy Washington Employment Security Department

The unemployment rates in many eastern Washington counties have fallen precipitously over the last couple of months, according to figures released by the state Tuesday.

Ferry County’s jobless rate is down from 14% in February to 8% in April, thanks to people brought back for spring and summer work. The Okanogan County rate is down from 9.5% to 5.3% with similar decreases in Stevens, Pend Oreille and Adams counties.

“This is not a standard year. I think there’s more opportunities out there across the board, even for the rural counties," Washington state regional economist Doug Tweedy. "So when you look at not just the unemployment rate, but if you look at how many jobs they have in each of those counties, the number of payroll jobs have increased significantly.”

Tweedy says many rural counties that depend on natural resources are benefitting from more diversification.

“We’ve seen some increases in IT jobs, people moving from the Seattle area, trying to move to someplace more affordable, coming to the rural counties and opening their own businesses.”

One exception is in health care. Many small town providers have closed their offices and moved resources to larger cities.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.