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Unemployment rate falls in May

Some people turn to work shops to help find jobs. (AP File Photo)

Indicators say the economy in Washington may be recovering, based on new calculations of the state unemployment rate. The rate fell slightly to 8.1 percent this month after it was reported at 8.3 percent in March.

The state Employment Security Department is struggling to explain these numbers, which show that there are fewer people who are unemployed even though the state had a net loss of 300 jobs last month.

"Seven sectors expanded, while five contracted. Private sector was up by 2,000 jobs, whereas government fell by 2,300 jobs," said the department's senior economist, Dave Wallace.

Reporting a lower unemployment rate during a month with more job losses might be explained by workers who are so discouraged that they aren't looking for a job anymore. People who aren't actively looking for jobs aren't counted in these unemployment numbers.

It has been government jobs that have suffered the most losses during the recession, as opposed to jobs with private companies.

"The main sector to lose jobs on an annual basis is government. It's been down by 5,600 jobs over the year. More than half of that came from state government," says Wallace.

However, Wallace also says that it would be good to wait to see what kind of revisions the department might make before making any assumptions.

In the last few months, there have been many revisions to the conclusions drawn from hard data. For example, December job losses were revised from 10,000 jobs lost to just 100 jobs lost in that month. January numbers were also corrected to reflect more jobs lost than had originally been estimated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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