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Seattle area jobless rate falls below 5 percent

The Seattle area jobless rate fell below 5 percent last month for the first time since the Great Recession started in 2008. (AP image)

The help wanted sign is clearly out all over the Seattle area, as the local jobless rate dropped below 5 percent last month for the first time since 2008.

The Washington State Employment Security Department reported Wednesday unemployment in the metro area, which includes Bellevue and Everett, fell to 4.7 percent in May, the Seattle Times reported. That's down from 5.1 percent in April.

Statewide, Washington's unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent last month and the state added an estimated 4,100 jobs.

Economists say that Washington state's unemployment rate has fallen by 0.7 percentage points since the start of the year, and it is now the lowest since November 2008, when the rate was 6.5 percent. A year ago, the state had 8.4 percent unemployment.

"Washington's labor market is continuing to recover and expand at a modest rate," Paul Turek, a labor economist for Employment Security, said in a written statement.

Washington's recovery continues to outpace the rest of nation, which posted a 7.6 percent national average in May.

Turek told the Times Seattle is leading the recovery for the entire state.

"A lot has to do with the Boeing factor. They've helped lead the way in hiring. Software development is beginning to catch up, but still probably hasn't hit its peak. And related to that is a decent amount of construction."

Since May 2012, when Washington state's unemployment rate was 8.2 percent, the state has gained more than 60,000 jobs.

The Seattle's area's 4.7 percent jobless rate is considered full employment. It's the first time since the start of the Great Recession in 2008 the area has dropped that low.

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