Washington's unemployment rate rose half a percentage point as the local economy shed jobs in the wake of global financial woes, the state Employment Security Department said.

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Washington’s unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in October, up half a percentage point from September, as the local economy shed jobs in the wake of global financial woes, the state Employment Security Department said today.

The department’s chief economist, Mary Ayala, said the retail sector took the heaviest hit as consumers slowed spending. The “retail sector this last month really started to show the effects of a weakening credit market,” she said.

The figure marked a big change from September’s unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. In October last year, unemployment in Washington stood at 4.6 percent. The most recent number is preliminary and subject to revision.

U.S. unemployment stood at 6.5 percent in October.

The Employment Security Department conducted a separate household survey that indicated the loss of 23,200 nonagricultural jobs in October. That survey, however, reflected a two-month Machinists strike at Boeing that accounted for 24,000 jobs. Without the strike, which ended Nov. 2, payrolls would actually have grown by about 800 jobs last month.

On the national level, jobs declined by 0.8 percent in October versus a year ago.

“The employment losses look dramatic, but we recouped all of them and then some when the Boeing strikers returned to work in November,” Ayala said.

About 1,700 jobs were lost in retail in October. Most of the 2,700 retail jobs lost in the past 12 months occurred in the third quarter, Ayala said.

The slowdown “will go on for a while until people have more confidence or they have more jobs,” she said.

There were 1,700 jobs lost in education services and 1,100 in construction. The government added 6,000 jobs. There were about 204,000 unemployed job seekers in the state, the department said.

Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com