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Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Washington unemployment drops to lowest in six years

Thanks to a boost in June, Washington's unemployment numbers have dropped to their lowest levels in six years to 5.8 percent – that's according to the state's Employment Security Department.

Industry sectors saw the largest growth with 2,600 jobs. Retail grew by 2,200, leisure and hospitality by 1,900 and wholesale trade by 1,400. Professional and business services, information, manufacturing, financial services and mining also saw growth in the hundreds.

“After a hiring lull in May, Washington employers really picked up the pace in June,” said Paul Turek, an economist with the department. “The state's economy is picking up momentum and the near term job outlook is good.”

During the one-year period ending in June, Employment Security estimates that employers created 84,700 jobs.

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

Washington State survey shows job vacancies, hiring on the rise

A state-sponsored survey of Washington employers shows both hiring and job vacancies increased between fall of 2012 and fall of 2013 and employers say it's taking a lot longer to fill the openings.

The Employment Security Department’s “2013 Fall Job-Vacancy and Hiring Survey Report” estimated job vacancies increased by 23 percent to 86,600 in fall 2013. Estimated hiring rose nearly 10 percent to 209,100.

Employers also reported that vacant positions remained open for more than two months before being filled. That's a striking contrast to the rate of just 19 days in 2012.

The report also shows more than half of the state's job vacancies were in urban areas of Western Washington, accounting for nearly 82 percent of all new hires from July to September last year.

The industry sector with the most job openings was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and the average estimated hourly wage for $13.69.

Local liquor store owner finds success in a difficult market

Local liquor store owner finds success in a difficult market

It's been two years since private retailers started selling liquor in Washington state and the change has caused higher prices on liquor and higher fees for those selling it.

Former state-run small volume liquor stores have been closing their doors statewide since the privatization and the ones that are still open took a huge hit in revenue.

Mark Bahr says he feels lucky his store is still in business, but it has come with a price.

"I could have just given up, but I love this business," said Bahr.

Bahr has been the owner of Medical Lake Liquor & Wine for 7 years. Before the privatization his store was contracted to the state.

"We were tasked with managing the states inventory so we were a commissioned sales staff. We got paid based on our sales," said Bahr.

Since the change Bahr's sales took a40-45% hit, and running his store comes with some new costs.

Now Bahr buys all of the liquor himself and then sells it, but, in order to do that, he has to pay a 17 percent retail sales fee.

"I have to make up for that the only place I can and that's in the product that I sell," said Bahr.

Will recreational marijuana supply meet public's demand?

Will recreational marijuana supply meet public's demand?

Recreational marijuana is being grown right now and will hit retail store across Washington in early July but will there be enough to go around?

"This strain is called Train Wreck, it's being harvested today," said Scott O'Neil with Pacific Northwest Medical, as he trimmed a 12" long 1/4 lb. marijuana bud.

Right now O'Neil works in the medical marijuana field but in two weeks he'll be on his own.

"And we'll be selling recreational marijuana," O'Neil added.

He hopes his new store will be the first recreational marijuana store to open in Washington; O'Neil Industries, an authorized retailer of Kouchlock.

"We've secured product from a couple of vendors, definitely working on getting more. The product we have right now is probably going to last a couple days," said O'Neil.

O'Neil said some producers are already sold out for the next year and that's weeks before retail stores even open.

That supply will depend on how many growers can get up to speed in the next couple of months. In hopes of building clientele early O'Neil says he's going for as much variety as he can get his hands on.

Marijuana retailers getting ready for opening day

Marijuana retailers getting ready for opening day

In a little over three weeks Washington will open its first recreational marijuana stores, with only a handful of retailers to receive licenses in July.

For Scott DeKay, it's going to be a family business.

"We got our display case here. We're going to have our pipes and then sealed samples of marijuana for customers to look at," said Scott DeKay, owner of Savage THC in Clayton.

He's filed the last bit of paperwork required to obtain a recreational marijuana retail license.

"They're trying to get 20 open by the first of July and I'm still hoping to be one of those 20," said DeKay.

Dekay says getting into the first group of retailers to open will be important to start paying off the cost of setting up shop.

"They'll stand here, like I said out front, they'll have the little tray right here. Put the product in, push it out," said DeKay as he demonstrated how the transaction will be handled behind bullet proof glass.

Now that the final paperwork is done, arguably the hardest part, second only to finding a retail space, Dekay only needs to pass an inspection, pay his license fee and secure product for opening day.

Pot retailers preparing to open as supply concerns persist

Pot retailers preparing to open as supply concerns persist

As the countdown continues until the first legal marijuana shops open around July 1 the question remains will there be enough supply to meet demand.

At one retail shop being set up on North Division Street they're working toward opening their doors on July 1.

"There's definitely a lot more hoops to jump through and a lot more red tape to cut through than the typical store front," Justin Wilson said.

For Wilson it's been a wild ride to just get to this point.

"Location is difficult, with the 1,000-foot buffer, our landlord of course had to be persuaded into this new market obviously its new to a lot of people," he said.

Wilson has been focused on things like shop design and, most importantly, security.

"Each of those has to be covered properly, so again, about 16 cameras and they want 45 days storage so it's a pretty lengthy, pretty big DVR to hold all that," he said.

But when the day comes when he can open many are concerned if there will be enough supply to meet demand. In Colorado, after marijuana was legalized in that state, demand was so high, stores quickly ran out.

Marijuana grow operator tries to reassure concerned community members

Marijuana grow operator tries to reassure concerned community members

People living near a legal pot grow in the Mt. Spokane community are upset it's there but the man leasing the property said Friday he's gone above and beyond to make the grow safe.

The barbed fencing and cameras around this building off State Highway 206 were put up to keep what's inside the building, a marijuana grow operation, safe.

"I have taken extra measures to be sure and not only protect myself and my business but the community here at large," business owner Frank Schade said.

It's some of the many precautions Schade had done since applying for a grow permit last November.

"I got my license awarded to me but I was given the verbal OK about two weeks prior to that," he said. "I'm just very proud of getting up and going so quickly, number 7 in the whole state."