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Steady job gains are chipping away at the unemployment rate in Washington state. New numbers released by the Employment Department Wednesday show the statewide jobless rate dropped to 6.1 percent in April, down from 6.3 percent in March. 

The vast majority of new jobs are being created in the Seattle metro area. In the last reporting month, the jobless rate in 87 percent of Washington counties was higher than the national average.

Northwest sweet cherry growers say they'll likely pick 20 million boxes full — their third largest haul ever — this season. But there’s plenty that can happen to cherries before then, even on the day of harvest.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah grow about two-thirds of the nation’s sweet cherries. And this year, demand should be even higher for those candy-like fruit as a result of the dismal cherry growing weather in California. The continuing drought in that state and poor pollination has thinned out their crops. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Cruise season has begun in the Pacific Northwest with the arrival of gleaming cruise ships. They'll be steaming back and forth to Alaska all summer from Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. At the beginning and end of the cruise season, those large cruise ships also call on smaller Northwest ports such as Astoria, Port Angeles and Nanaimo, B.C.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

After a rare contested election, the incumbents have retained their posts at the top of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

International President Tom Buffenbarger kept the position he’s held since 1997 by a margin of two-to-one, according to preliminary results. About 23,500 members voted for Buffenbarger, and about 11,200 voted for IAM Reform candidate, Jay Cronk.

The number of farms in the Northwest is dropping, according to newly-released federal farm data.

But there's more to the story. The average size and value of Northwest farms are going up.

Andy Ciordia

Seattle City Council members are digging into the details of Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’s an eye-catching number that’s garnered national attention, but it's easy to forget the impact of that pesky thing known as inflation.

Paul Sakuma / AP Photo

Amazon wants to make shopping online as easy as a tweet.

The online retailer is introducing a service that lets Twitter users add Amazon.com products to their carts without leaving the social media site.

Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

Against the backdrop of a minimum wage debate occurring both locally and nationally, Alaska Air says it’s boosting the starting pay for workers who handle baggage, clean cabins and refuel airplanes to $12 an hour.

Tom Banse

A family-owned sporting goods company in suburban Seattle is confronting the tension between honoring tradition and embracing innovation in the sport of baseball.

The company is going to market with what it calls a "better" baseball bat.

AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's incremental approach to raising the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour has revealed an interesting divide among left-wing groups and worker interests.

In one corner is David Rolf, a national leader in the Service Employees International Union and president of SEIU Healthcare 775NW. He's come out strongly in favor of Murray's plan, under which workers at businesses with more than 500 employees would first start earning $15 an hour in 2017 at the earliest. 

Anna King

We’ve all heard of the Western Gold Rush. But how about the Northwest cattle rush?

Farmers in our region are taking advantage of record prices worldwide for dairy and beef. And on the front lines of this Northwest herd expansion is your friendly artificial insemination technician. So when you douse milk on your morning cereal, think of guys like Dean Hibbs.

Hibbs has been on breakneck drive to breed more cattle and hasn’t had a day off in weeks. He says cows in heat wait for no man.

Ashley Gross

Marcos Camilo of Brazil had never been on a plane before he flew to Seattle this past weekend. In fact, he’d never even seen the ocean. Now he’s seen the Pacific — something he never imagined.

Camilo was one of thousands of people from the coffee industry who convened at a conference to discuss a variety of topics, from roasting techniques to latte art. He was one of four farm workers from Central and South America joined them to pitch the benefits of buying beans that are Fair Trade-certified.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air announced strong earnings for the first quarter of the year on Friday.

The airline group's CEO said he expects good results for the rest of 2014 as well, notwithstanding growing competition from Delta Air Lines on Alaska's home turf. Delta is dramatically ramping up its Seattle operations to build a new hub city oriented toward the Pacific Rim. 

AP Photo

The committee exploring the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 has not reached a consensus, Mayor Ed Murray said Thursday.

Murray, who had called a news conference to unveil a plan for raising the minimum wage, said the Income Inequality Advisory Committee had not yet reached a firm agreement. He added the negotiations are ongoing.

“I’d rather get it late and get it right than rush it and get it wrong,” he said.

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