Washington unemployment rate rises slightly to 6.3 percent

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The jobless rate in Washington rose slightly in December to 6.3 percent, but the big news Thursday from the state Employment Security Department is that employment growth last year was the highest in 17 years.

The department estimates employment increased by nearly 83,000 jobs, the highest since 1997.

The December jobless figure compares to 6.2 percent in November and 6.7 percent in December 2013. The National rate for December is 5.6 percent.

The unemployment rate measures the number of jobless people looking for work out of the total workforce. Washington has 221,000 unemployed in a labor force of 3.5 million.

Of the 83,000 jobs added over the past year, 73,000 were in the private sectors and 10,000 in the public sector. About 7,600 of those were added in December alone.