PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The unemployment rate in Oregon remained flat at 11 percent in December but there was a small sign of job growth.
The jobless rate has barely budged for the last four months of 2009 -- just like the national unemployment rate, which is stuck at about 10 percent.
But Oregon added 2,900 jobs in December -- the first substantial monthly job gain since July 2008.
Education and health services led the gains, along with manufacturing and transportation. But construction and logging posted some losses for December.
Washington's unemployment rate jumped to 9.5 percent in December, the state's highest rate since 1984, state officials said Tuesday.
Dave Wallace, chief economist with the Employment Security Department, said that despite the month-to-month rise in unemployment, there was some good news: the 23,700 jobs lost in the last six months of 2009 were notably less than the 80,000 job losses in the first six months of the year.
"Employment is a lagging economic indicator, so coming out of a recession, it is typical for jobs to be the last thing to return," he said. "But overall, job losses are clearly trending downward, and that's a positive sign."
November's unemployment rate, originally reported at 9.2 percent, was later revised down to 9 percent. Wallace said the state unemployment rate hit 9.6 percent in February 1984. The highest rate since the mid-1970s was in November 1982, when it hit 12.2 percent.
Until last month, the state's jobless rate had hovered around 9 percent since summer, and Arun Raha, the state's chief economist, has said he expects it to peak at about 9.8 percent in the spring. The national unemployment rate for December was 10 percent.
Washington has lost more than 106,000 jobs since December 2008, a 3.6 percent decrease. Nationally, employment declined by 3.1 percent during the same time.
Construction lost the most jobs last month, down about 1,900. That industry has seen 23 consecutive months of job losses, state officials said. Government lost 1,500 jobs, with the bulk -- 1,400 -- in local government. State payrolls remained unchanged, while the federal government shed 100 jobs. Financial activities was down 800, transportation, warehousing and utilities were down 700, and manufacturing was down 400.
The biggest job gains were seen in education and health services, up 800, and professional and business services, up 700. Leisure and hospitality gained 500 jobs last month, while retail trade was up 400.
State officials said more than 334,000 people were unemployed and looking for work last month.
The highest unemployment rate in the state is 14.3 percent in Clark County in the southwest. Whitman County in the east has the lowest mark at 4.6 percent. The largest county, King, was 8.5 percent.