Unemployment eased slightly in Washington State during 2011, moving from 9.2 percent at the year’s midpoint to 8.6 percent at the end of the year.

The latest figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metropolitan statistical area the ratio was a little better, with an 8.1 percent unemployment rate to close out the year.

There were about 1.2 million people in this area’s civilian labor force at the end of 2011.

In Washington State as a whole there are about 3.4 million people in the civilian labor force, and about 3.2 million jobs currently filled.

In the country as a whole the annual average unemployment rates in 2011 declined in 48 states and rose in two states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. jobless rate in 2011 was 8.9 percent, down 0.7 percentage point from the prior year. The national employment-population ratio continued to trend down to 58.4 percent in 2011.

All four regions posted statistically significant unemployment rate decreases in 2011. The Midwest experienced the greatest decline (-1.1 percentage points), followed by the West (-0.6 point) and the Northeast and South (-0.5 point each). The West, at 10.4 percent, registered the only jobless rate significantly higher than that of the U.S. in 2011.

For the fourth year in a row, the Pacific recorded the highest unemployment rate, 11.0 percent in 2011.