Despite weaknesses elsewhere in the state, Seattle employers added 6,400 jobs in April, giving the metro area a needed boost. Economists were encouraged, since...

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Despite weaknesses elsewhere in the state, Seattle employers added 6,400 jobs in April, giving the metro area a needed boost.

Economists were encouraged, since Seattle, hit hard by the downturn that began in January 2001, has taken longer to recover than other parts of the state.

“It certainly is startlingly strong job growth,” said Roberta Pauer of the state Employment Security Department.

Meanwhile, the state unemployment rate rose to 5.5 percent as discouraged workers renewed their job searches, beefing up the labor force by 18,000. In March, it matched the national figure of 5.2 percent.

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In the Seattle metro area, hospitality and leisure added 2,200 jobs, thanks to mild winter.

The booming housing market brought another 1,400 jobs to the construction industry, while business services added 1,000 jobs.

But the food-processing industry, much of it in Eastern Washington, lost 1,400 jobs last month. Wood-products jobs declined by 400.

The state has regained the 82,500 jobs lost during the recession and added another 33,400. The Seattle area still needs to add 46,500 more jobs to meet pre-recessionary levels, Pauer said.

Shirleen Holt: 206-464-8316 or sholt@seattletimes.com