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Tigard/Tualatin unemployment rates one of the best in county

Washington County's unemployment rate hit its lowest level in years, with Tigard and Tualatin helping to nudge the job growth.

As a whole, the county's labor force rose to 294,795 in March, a substantial 1.3 percentage points better than last March's 5.9 percent, according to the latest data from the Oregon Employment Department.

Countywide, the unemployment rate declined to 4.6 percent, the first time since June 2008 that it dipped below 5 percent.

Tigard's rate was even lower at 4.4 percent while Tualatin's was 4.6 percent.

Beaverton had the lowest unemployment rate -- 4.3 percent -- among five Washington County cities with at least 25,000 people. Rounding out the list was Hillsboro (4.7 percent) and Forest Grove (5.7 percent).

On the whole, Washington County's employment grew by 1.3 percentage points for the past year, which was better than the full Portland metropolitan area's average of 1.1 percent and nearly twice as good as Oregon's 0.7 percent growth during the same period. The national job growth rate for those 12 months was 0.4 of a percent.

Washington County's employment picture hasn't been so rosy since before the Great Recession, according to data released Monday by Jill Cuyler-Crook, county economist for the state agency.

Job categories that showed the most growth were retail (5.2 percent), leisure/hospitality (4.1 percent) and professional/business (3.5 percent). On the other end of the scale, the construction sector sawed off 1.5 percent of its workforce.

In another measure of economic growth, building permits issued in Washington County during the first three months of 2015 were up by 78.8 percent compared to the first quarter of last year. Pending home sales rose by 27.8 percent between March 2014 and last month, and closed sales and new listings were also higher while properties spent less time on the market.

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