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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.

A first-timers guide to legal recreational marijuana

A first-timers guide to legal recreational marijuana

Legal marijuana sales kicked off Tuesday across Washington, including at one of three confirmed stores here in Spokane, with enthusiasts in line hours before opening.

But what about the curious among us who have never taken a puff in our lives, but are ready to give it a try now that it's legal and easily accessible?

“It can be a little alien if it's their first time,” said Green Leaf customer service representative Chad Welsh. “To walk in here and think 'What are these devices?' and 'What is your product all about?'”

A big part of Chad's job is to help guide first-timers through the experience, with tips on the product, how to smoke and what to smoke with. I also spoke with Daniel Wendling, general manager at Piece of Mind and assistant manager at the licensed pot shop Satori just next door, and put together a how-to of sorts for the first time smoker.

 

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Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Burn ban on DNR forestland east of Cascades starts July 1

Another warning in the face of the upcoming Fourth of July weekend – the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has placed a burn ban on all DNR-protected land east of the Cascades.

Starting July 1 and running until September 30, the burn ban applies to all forestland under DNR fire protection.

“The seasonally dry weather creates a greater risk for wildfires,” said Commission of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “A burn ban helps to prevent them and protects forests, habitat and property.”

So far this year DNR has already had 172 wildfire starts, which have burned approximately 779 acres across the state.

The ban applies to all outdoor burning on DNR forestland with two exceptions:

Recreational fires in approved fire pits

Gas or propane stoves and barbecue grills

Fireworks and incendiary devices like exploding targets, sky lanterns or tracer ammunition are also illegal.

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.

Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Washington sees largest growth in population since 2008

Is your neighborhood beginning to feel a little crowded? According to the Washington office of Financial Management, the state population has increased dramatically in the past year by an estimated 1.5 percent. That's 85,500 people!

Washington's population has been growing at an increasing rate, mostly due to migration. In 2013 the state saw a net gain of 49,200 people moving into the state, more than double the 21,600 from 2012.

Net migration accounts for 57 percent of the state's population growth this year, with natural increase (births minus deaths) responsible for the other 43 percent.

Seventy-five percent of the state's total population growth occurred in the five largest metropolitan counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane who's economic activity continues to attract migrants.  

Firework sales blast off this weekend

Firework sales blast off this weekend

The Fourth of July is just a week away, and firework sales begin this weekend!

Washington State Fire Marshal Chuck Duffy wants to remind residents to know the local laws before purchasing and discharging fireworks, and to make sure you are only using legal fireworks. This year, 937 licenses were issued for retail firework stands.

A fireworks ban has been in place in the unincorporated areas of Spokane County for 21 years, as well as Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney and Liberty Lake.

Fireworks are legal on private property in Airway Heights, Medical Lake and Deer Park.

Bottle rockets, missiles and firecrackers are illegal anywhere in Washington state.

In Coeur d'Alene, non-aerial fireworks are allowed on private property but not in public places like Tubbs Hill or City Park.

If you do find yourself in an area where fireworks are allowed, there are some guidelines you to keep in mind to make sure your family has a safe and fun Fourth.