Washington’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.6 to 4.5 percent in May, establishing a new record low for unemployment, according to the state Employment Security Department.
The rate is the lowest since comparable record-keeping began in 1976.
“Today’s great news demonstrates that our state’s economy is stronger than ever. When businesses add new jobs that creates more opportunities for workers, which ultimately benefits all Washingtonians,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “We must continue to ensure that people in every corner of the state enjoy economic growth and prosperity.”
Washington added 2,000 nonfarm jobs in May. The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its May Monthly Employment Report.
In May last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.6 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.3 percent this May. The Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area rate held steady at 3.3 percent.
“The economic trend moving forward is positive,” said Dale Peinecke, commissioner for the department. “Businesses needing skilled workers and people looking for their next job should take advantage of the services and opportunities available through their local WorkSource career centers.”
Employment Security is a partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which offers a variety of employment and training services, including free help with interviewing skills or résumés and with job referrals.
WorkSource centers are listed at WorkSourceWA.com. In addition, nearly 160,000 job openings are posted on the website.
Washington labor force drops slightly
The state’s labor force was virtually unchanged at 3.69 million in May — decreasing by 100 people from the previous month. However, in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 3,100 over the same period.
From May 2016 through May 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 59,100 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 30,600.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 54,135 people in May.
Five sectors expand, five contract, three unchanged
Private sector employment increased by 2,600 and government employment decreased by 600 jobs in May.
This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality, up 2,500, and education and health services, up 1,800. In addition, financial activities rose 900, professional and business services increased 400 and manufacturing added 100.
Transportation, warehousing and utilities faced the biggest reduction in May, losing 1,500 jobs. Wholesale trade cut 1,000, government trimmed 600, construction shaved 400 and information shed 100. Mining and logging, other services and retail trade were unchanged.
Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 80,500 new jobs from May 2016 through May 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.5 percent or 66,400 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.4 percent, adding 14,100 jobs.
From May 2016 through May 2017, 10 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. The only sectors reporting job losses were manufacturing (-8,000), mining and logging (-200) and wholesale trade (-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:
• Construction with 15,300 new jobs;
• Education and health services with 14,700 new jobs; and
ª Retail trade with 14,600 new jobs.