OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state's jobless rate is down to 8.5 percent.
The state Employment Security Department said Wednesday the unemployment measure fell in September as the number of jobs grew by about 1,200.
Department economist Joe Elling says it's important to focus on long-term trends, and he says the trend over the past 31 months shows an increasing rate of job growth.
Officials say a little under 300,000 people were unemployed and looking for work in September, with about 126,000 claiming unemployment benefits. Washington's jobless rate was at 8.6 percent in August and 9 percent a year ago.
The national jobless rate was also 9 percent last year, but it has fallen more quickly to 7.8 percent.