The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held firm in January at 5.1 percent, despite preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that indicate the state lost an estimated 7,200 jobs over the month.
“Typical seasonal job losses in leisure and hospitality and construction finally showed up after a sustained period of activity,” said Paul Turek, Washington’s state labor economist. “Washington’s economic outlook still remains positive, and we continue to see historically low numbers for unemployment.”
The Employment Security Department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from BLS as part of its January Monthly Employment Report. The department also announced that December’s previously announced unemployment rate of 5.2 percent has been revised downward to 5.1 percent.
The national unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area was unchanged at 3.7 percent.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 78,102 people in January.
Labor force continues to grow in Puget Sound and across Washington
The state’s labor force rose to 3.68 million in January, an increase of 7,600 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 5,400 over the same period.
From January 2016 to January 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 89,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 44,600.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
Six sectors expand, six contract
Private-sector and government employment both decreased by 3,600 jobs in January.
This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in education and health services with 3,000 new jobs created. In addition, financial activities increased 1,300; retail trade added 900, professional and business services was up 500, mining and logging increased 200 and wholesale trade added 100 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality faced the biggest reduction in December, losing 5,000 jobs. Government cut 3,600, transportation, warehousing and utilities clipped 2,300, construction shaved 1,000, information dropped 900 and other services fell 400. Manufacturing was unchanged.
Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 84,600 new jobs from January 2016 to January 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.9 percent or 73,800 jobs, and the public sector increased by 1.9 percent, adding 10,800 jobs.
From January 2016 to January 2017, 12 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-6,400) 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 17,900 new jobs;
- Retail trade with 17,500 new jobs; and
- Leisure and hospitality with 11,500 new jobs.
Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization,” or U-6 rate, for states to include the fourth quarter of 2016. 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 annual U-6 rate for Washington through fourth quarter 2016 was 10.3 percent compared to the national rate of 9.6 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.