Washington state’s jobless rate rose for the fifth month in a row in January, and remains above the national unemployment level.

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Washington state’s jobless rate nudged upward for the fifth month in a row in January, staying above the national unemployment level.

January’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

That’s up from 6.3 percent in December, and level with the unemployment rate in January of 2014.

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate dropped from 6.6 percent in January 2014 to 5.7 percent this January. The national rate also edged up in January from December’s rate of 5.6 percent.

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Joblessness in the Seattle area, which includes Bellevue and Everett, was unchanged in January at 4.6 percent. The metro area’s rate is down from 5.2 percent in January 2014.

State labor economist Paul Turek said a rise in the state’s unemployment rate is to be expected as more people enter the job market now that prospects seem brighter since the Great Recession.

“As we get more seekers into the labor force, we do see a good number of them become employed, but not all of them,” he said. “It may take a little bit longer for some to find employment — so as a result, they will be counted in the ranks of the unemployed, increasing the unemployment rate.”

In January, the state added 18,300 nonfarm jobs and added 12,900 people to the labor force. Altogether in 2014, the state gained 100,500 jobs, consisting of 89,800 in the private sector and 10,700 in the public.

Turke said that was a stronger performance than 2013, when the state only added 83,600 jobs.

The leisure and hospitality sector added the most workers in January, with 5,000 new jobs, followed by construction, with 4,800 jobs, and retail and professional and business services, each with 3,600 jobs.

On the downside, transportation, warehousing and utilities shrank by 500 jobs during the month; wholesale shed 400 jobs; and the government lost 200 jobs.

Joblessness was higher in January than December in 37 of Washington’s 39 counties, ESD reported.

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The King County jobless rate was 4.8 percent, up from 4.2 in December.

Snohomish County saw unemployment increase from 4.6 percent in December to 5.3 in January.

Pierce County’s rate was 7.8 percent, up from 7.1 percent in December.

The county unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted for month-to-month fluctuations and are based on a household survey.