Washington's unemployment rate held steady at 9 percent last month as the state lost about 3,200 jobs, officials said Tuesday.
The latest job figures from the state Employment Security Department showed some signs of life in private-sector job growth, with a seasonally adjusted net gain of about 1,000 private jobs. But that was offset by the loss of about 4,200 government jobs in September.
"We're gradually seeing private-sector jobs returning, and I find optimism in that," Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said.
The state estimates about 303,000 people were unemployed and looking for work last month, with about 223,000 people receiving unemployment benefits.
September's 9 percent jobless rate was in line with August's revised rate of 9 percent and slightly less than the 9.2 percent figure from a year earlier. National unemployment last month was pegged at 9.6 percent.
Goods-producing industries added a net of about 400 jobs in September, while service providers lost about 3,600 jobs.
State officials said manufacturing's gain of 900 payroll slots led the industries adding jobs last month, with strength in aerospace. Wholesale trade added 700 jobs and financial activities added about 600.
Other sectors adding jobs last month were transportation, warehousing and utilities, with 400 more jobs; retail trade and information, each adding 200; and mining/logging and other services, each gaining 100.
Government led the sectors shedding jobs last month with 4,200. Most were from local government, which cut about 2,500 jobs. State government trimmed about 1,000 positions. Census jobs dropped by about 1,300, the first time in several months that those temporary positions weren't the cause of most government job losses.
Professional and business services were down about 1,000, and construction _ particularly hard-hit by the Great Recession _ dropped another 600 jobs in September. The state said September's job losses were the first to hit the construction sector since March, driven by losses among specialty trade contractors.
The leisure and hospitality sector lost about 300 jobs, as did education and health services.
State officials said Washington has added a net total of 1,200 jobs in the past nine months. The state's economy has lost about 17,700 jobs since September 2009.
The unemployment rate in the combined Seattle/Bellevue/Everett market was 8.6 percent for September.
Washington State Employment Situation Report: http://tinyurl.com/ycr6t5x