Record low unemployment continues in Washington

  • Wednesday, August 16, 2017 10:12am
  • Business

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate clocked in at 4.5 percent for the third consecutive month in July, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“The good economic news continues in Washington,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Unemployment is at a record low and Washington businesses continue to add jobs. Plus, newly released data shows early-year hiring was much stronger than originally thought.”

Washington employers added 1,600 non-farm jobs in July. The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its July Monthly Employment Report.

In July last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.5 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 4.3 percent this July and 3.5 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 49,868 people in July.

Labor force continues to grow in Washington

The state’s labor force rose to 3.7 million in July — an increase of 13,100 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 3,700 over the same period.

From July 2016 through July 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 60,500 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 13,600.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Eight sectors expand, five contract

Private sector employment decreased by 3,700 and government employment increased by 5,300 jobs in July.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government up 5,300, education and health services up 2,000. Other sectors adding jobs were retail trade up 700, wholesale trade up 600, information and financial services both up 100.

Leisure and hospitality and other services faced the biggest reduction in July, losing 2,600 and 1,600 jobs respectively. Additionally, construction cut 1,300, manufacturing eliminated 1,000, transportation, warehousing and utilities trimmed 400 and professional and business services cut 300. Mining and logging was unchanged.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 85,200 new jobs from July 2016 through July 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.5 percent or 67,900 jobs, and the public sector increased by 3.1 percent, adding 17,300 jobs.

From July 2016 through July 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-5,900) and logging (-200) were the only sectors to report job losses.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Government with 17,300 new jobs;

Construction with 12,400 new jobs; and

Education and health services with 11,500 new jobs.

Check it out! ESD has new labor market information and tools, including a video tutorial, to highlight popular information and data.

Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization,” or U-6 rate, for states to include the second quarter of 2017. The U-6 rate considers not only the unemployed population in the official U-3 unemployment rate, but also “the underemployed and those not looking but wanting a job.” The U-6 rate for Washington through the second quarter 2017 was 9.7 percent compared to the national rate of 9.2 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

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