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Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Thanks to a boost in June, Washington's unemployment numbers have dropped to their lowest levels in six years to 5.8 percent – that's according to the state's Employment Security Department.

Industry sectors saw the largest growth with 2,600 jobs. Retail grew by 2,200, leisure and hospitality by 1,900 and wholesale trade by 1,400. Professional and business services, information, manufacturing, financial services and mining also saw growth in the hundreds.

“After a hiring lull in May, Washington employers really picked up the pace in June,” said Paul Turek, an economist with the department. “The state's economy is picking up momentum and the near term job outlook is good.”

During the one-year period ending in June, Employment Security estimates that employers created 84,700 jobs.

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

A state-sponsored survey of Washington employers shows both hiring and job vacancies increased between fall of 2012 and fall of 2013 and employers say it's taking a lot longer to fill the openings.

The Employment Security Department’s “2013 Fall Job-Vacancy and Hiring Survey Report” estimated job vacancies increased by 23 percent to 86,600 in fall 2013. Estimated hiring rose nearly 10 percent to 209,100.

Employers also reported that vacant positions remained open for more than two months before being filled. That's a striking contrast to the rate of just 19 days in 2012.

The report also shows more than half of the state's job vacancies were in urban areas of Western Washington, accounting for nearly 82 percent of all new hires from July to September last year.

The industry sector with the most job openings was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and the average estimated hourly wage for $13.69.

Will recreational marijuana supply meet public's demand?

Will recreational marijuana supply meet public's demand?

Recreational marijuana is being grown right now and will hit retail store across Washington in early July but will there be enough to go around?

"This strain is called Train Wreck, it's being harvested today," said Scott O'Neil with Pacific Northwest Medical, as he trimmed a 12" long 1/4 lb. marijuana bud.

Right now O'Neil works in the medical marijuana field but in two weeks he'll be on his own.

"And we'll be selling recreational marijuana," O'Neil added.

He hopes his new store will be the first recreational marijuana store to open in Washington; O'Neil Industries, an authorized retailer of Kouchlock.

"We've secured product from a couple of vendors, definitely working on getting more. The product we have right now is probably going to last a couple days," said O'Neil.

O'Neil said some producers are already sold out for the next year and that's weeks before retail stores even open.

That supply will depend on how many growers can get up to speed in the next couple of months. In hopes of building clientele early O'Neil says he's going for as much variety as he can get his hands on.

From Seattle to Clayton, marijuana stores getting ready to open

From Seattle to Clayton, marijuana stores getting ready to open

Each day Washington grows closer to legal marijuana sales and some business owners are now setting up shop as the liquor control board pushes forward with its investigations.

The success of potential pot store Savage THC in Clayton could all depend on traffic. Not trafficking but traffic on Highway 395, which connects Spokane to Canada.

"I'm trying to suck in the Canadian visitors by telling them it's only 138 clicks (kilometers)," owner Scott Dekay said.

Dekay is currently building the infrastructure for his pot business.

"I'm thinking like a bank style window, maybe with bars or plexiglass, I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet," he said.

Dekay is excited since receiving this letter from the liquor control board stating his application is moving forward.

"My daughter is here for a visit, I don't see her very often, and I just told her, 'This is the best day of my life since you were born,'" he said.

If he passes a background check and financial investigation he could be awarded a license, but there's still a lot of work to do. Counters, signs, security cameras, everything built to the specifications he presented in his application.

SGL to become world's largest carbon fiber producer

SGL to become world's largest carbon fiber producer

SGL Automotive in Moses Lake is set to become the largest producer of carbon fiber in the world and add 120 new jobs, after a recent announcement by the company.

KXLY4 featured SGL Automotive in this Made in the Northwest story in August 2013.

The $200 million in new investment is due to strong sales in BMW's new electric cars.

The expansion, announced on Friday, will add a third 110,000 sq. ft. building at the Moses Lake plant, which will increase its production to 9,000 metric tons of carbon fiber per year.  The new building will house SGL's fifth and sixth production lines.  The third and fourth were just recently completed.

“Because of the very fast-paced growth, and success of i3 and i8 (BMW electric cars) in the market, we basically went straight ahead and now are starting to construct building three for lines five and six,” said SGL managing director Joerg Pohlman.

The 120 new jobs will bring the total at SGL to about 200.

Lime prices causing consumers to pucker up

Lime prices causing consumers to pucker up

Lime, the little fruit that causes some to pucker, is causing that same reaction when consumers look at the price lately.

"The price of limes has been crazy," Casa De Oro owner Enrique Torres said.

Torres owns Casa De Oro in North Spokane. He said he's squeezing out hundreds of dollars each week on limes to keep the restaurant running.

"You can't go to a Mexican restaurant and order a margarita or beer without the lime," he said.

Torres just put in a $150 order Tuesday for a case of 140 limes.

"Like four months ago they were $20 a case," Torres said.

It's going to be an expensive week for the restaurant, with their annual Cinco de Mayo celebration coming up on Saturday. Torres said they'll need up to six cases of limes for Cinco de Mayo alone.

"It's going to be $700 for the limes," he said.

At grocery stores, customers are seeing the same thing. Limes that usually only cost a couple dimes are now pushing a dollar. Some stores haven't even had them because of the shortage.

Washington's pot license lottery gets underway

Washington state is holding a lottery this week to select more than 300 licensees across the state to run recreational marijuana shops.

In places like Spokane eight recreational pot stores are allowed but 108 people applied to run those stores, so the state is holding a city-by-city lottery to see who gets the licenses.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board started the lottery Monday and it runs through the end of the week.

It's double-blind, which means absolute anonymity for the applicants so no one gets special treatment.

The people applying still have to pass a background check, financial investigation and other requirements before any licenses are issued.

Although we won't know who gets a license for a few weeks it's an exciting time for the applicants, like Dan Magadanz, who manages "The Peaceful Choice," a local medical marijuana dispensary.

"The second recreational market in the United States is opening and nobody has anything right now. We're standing in a position where we're really excited to be one of the people that help this industry move into legitimate business," Magadanz said.