Unemployment rate hits nine-year low in Washington

  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017 10:38am
  • Business

Washington’s economy added 6,100 jobs in February and the state unemployment rate fell from 5.1 to 4.9 percent – the lowest report since March 2008, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“Washington’s economy is moving forward with sustained momentum despite cutbacks in aerospace,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “The tech market is propelling western Washington, real estate is strong across the state and other economic segments are maintaining.”

The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its February Monthly Employment Report.

The national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in February. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area was 3.5 percent. The February 2016 unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.

“Washington’s labor market is at or near full employment,” said Turek. “It’s creating pressure to increase wages for some businesses.”

Meanwhile, Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 77,349 people in February.

Labor force continues to grow in Puget Sound and across Washington

The state’s labor force rose to 3.68 million in February, an increase of 2,500 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 3,300 over the same period.

From February 2016 to February 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 81,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 43,400.

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

Eight sectors expand, three contract, two unchanged

Private-sector employment increase by 4,100 and government employment increased by 2,000 jobs in February.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in construction and government with 2,000 new jobs each. In addition, professional and business services increased 1,300; leisure and hospitality added 1,100; other services was up 1,000; financial activities jumped 500; and wholesale trade and information added 100 jobs each.

Manufacturing faced the biggest reduction in February, losing 900 jobs. Transportation, warehousing and utilities cut 600; and retail trade clipped 500. Education and health services and mining and logging were unchanged.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 85,100 new jobs from February 2016 to February 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.8 percent or 73,100 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.1 percent, adding 12,000 jobs.

From February 2016 to February 2017, 12 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-7,100) was the only sectors to report job losses.

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

• Education and health services with 15,700 new jobs;

• Retail trade with 15,700 new jobs; and

• Government with 12,000 new jobs.

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

More in Business

Kent’s Kmart store to close this fall

Liquidation sales to start July 26

Green River College students build fan app for Thunderbirds

Live feed enhances the game-day experience

Pecos Pit Bar-B-Que opens corporate headquarters and training center in Kent

Facility to support the company’s expansion plans, beginning with nine new restaurants in the Seattle region

Sonic Drive-In plans June 18 opening in Kent

At corner of 116th Avenue SE and Kent Kangley Road

Labor market strengthens further in May

8,500 jobs jobs added statewide for the month

Northwest Harvest receives new solar panels

PSE’s Green Power program funds project for Kent warehouse

MultiCare Kent clinic reaches construction milestone on the way to 2019 opening

$17.5 million facility will replace the existing one

Food trucks coming to Kent’s Town Square Plaza

Wednesdays, Saturdays June through September; farmers market opens new season Saturday

Tukwila’s 19-story hotel, apartments open near Southcenter

Complex north of Kent features 185-room Hotel Interurban

Kent Downtown Partnership to host annual celebration June 1

Event features Boeing historian; Lunar Rover project retiree

Kent street gets new name of Oberto Drive

In honor of company’s 100th anniversary