Wash. jobless rate drops further to 6.4 percent

SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington state's unemployment rate is 6.4 percent, the lowest it has been in more than five years.

The state Employment Security Department said Wednesday that Washington added 3,800 jobs between December and January. Washington's unemployment rate is below the national rate of 6.6 percent for January. Washington's adjusted rate for December was 6.7 percent.

State officials say the strongest growth was in private sector jobs. Over the past year, the private sector has added 58,700 jobs, while government jobs have grown by an estimated 2,700 jobs.

The January 2013 unemployment in Washington was 7.3 percent.

Washington's unemployment rate rose as high as 10.2 percent at the start of 2010 but has been falling steadily ever since. The state says some 222,000 people are still looking for work.

State officials say the unemployment rate in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area of Western Washington has dropped to 5.2 percent.