OLYMPIA, Wash. Washington state's unemployment rate has fallen to 8.5 percent.
The state Employment Security Department says the jobless rate dropped in September as the number of jobs grew by about 1,200.
The ESD says about 300,000 people were unemployed and looking for work in September, with about 126,000 claiming unemployment benefits.
A department economist says it's important to focus on long-term trends. Joe Elling says the trend over the past 31 months shows an increasing rate of job growth.
Washington's jobless rate was at 8.6 percent in August and 9 percent a year ago. The national jobless rate was also 9 percent last year, but it has fallen more quickly to 7.8 percent.