LONG BEACH, Wash. - Pacific County's jobless rate declined to 10.3 percent in October, its lowest level so far in 2009, according to the latest report from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

October's level compared to 11.1 percent in September and a county rate of 8.1 percent during the same month last year. It was substantially higher than October's statewide rate of 8.8 percent.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased slightly here in October to 266, compared to 244 in September. But this year's number of claims is far fewer than the 380 recorded in October 2008, when the recession really hit Pacific County.

The number of continuing jobless claims remains high at 453 in October, where it has held at roughly the same level for four months. The average in other recent Octobers was 202.

A relatively high number of people continue to run out of unemployment benefits - 54 in October, or about seven times as many as in October of last year.

At least part of the reason for the drop in the overall jobless rate is a decline in the size of the workforce as people move away or give up looking. Pacific County nonfarm employment totaled 5,672 in October, down from an average of 6,031 in previous recent Octobers.

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