January was the strongest month in terms of job growth in Washington in more than three years, state officials announced Tuesday.

That helped push the unemployment rate down to 9.1 percent in January, compared with 9.3 percent in December, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Washington added about 11,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted) in January for the largest gain since November 2007, which was the month before the Great Recession began.

"It's unusual to have job gains in the middle of winter, so this is another positive sign that the recovery is under way," Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said in a statement.

The state said the areas that saw job growth were:

  • Professional and business services, up 5,600.
  • Education and health services, up 4,500,
  • Retail trade, up 1,500.
  • Leisure and hospitality, up 1,300.
  • Financial activities, up 1,200.

    There were job losses in the construction industry and government.

    About 338,905 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work, and 245,225 people received unemployment benefits from Washington in December, state officials said.

  • -Chris Grygiel, Seattle PI.com