Washington state's unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent in November from 6.3 in October as the retail and construction sectors suffered from the ongoing recession.

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Washington state’s unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent in November from 6.3 in October as the retail and construction sectors suffered from the ongoing recession.

The figure is lower than the national unemployment rate, which stood at 6.7 percent in November, the state Employment Security Department said today.

“Washington is slightly better” than the rest of the nation due to its high proportion of service jobs versus those in manufacturing, which have been badly hit across the nation, said Mary Ayala, chief economist at the department.

In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area, the unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent last month from 5.3 percent in October.

According to a survey conducted by the department, the state lost 11,700 jobs in the past month. About 4,800 of those jobs were in the construction industry, which has been grinding to a halt in many parts of the nation as demand for housing drops and foreclosures rise.

Some 4,000 retail jobs were lost as well — an unusual event at the start of the holiday shopping season, underscoring the depth of the nation’s economic troubles. The number “reflects people being out of work who don’t have money to shop,” said Ayala.

Ayala said she expects unemployment to go up within the next month or two, as retail sales continue to decline. A massive wave of layoffs — from Washington Mutual to Paccar — is also due to hit next year.

Ayala said she expects that today’s decline in the federal funds target rate, combined with the Obama administration’s proposed stimulus package, will be able to restart the economic engine.

“Hopefully the quicker that happens the more jobs will be created in Washington,” she said.

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