After eight months at 5.8 percent, preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate shook free and fell to 5.7 percent in August despite more people joining the labor force.
According to the Monthly Employment Report from Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD), the state added 2,600 jobs in August. July’s preliminary gain of 2,600 jobs was revised down to 1,900.
“While the unemployment rate didn’t change dramatically, it’s a positive move none the less, considering the state’s labor force continues to grow,” said Paul Turek, the state’s labor market economist.
The national unemployment rate held firm at 4.9 percent in August. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area dropped from 4.4 to 4.1 percent in August.
ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 52,719 people in August.
Labor force increases in Washington
The state’s labor force grew to 3.63 million in August, an increase of 7,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 8,000 during the same period.
From August 2015 to August 2016, the state’s labor force grew by 89,000 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 29,300.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over age 16.
Seven sectors expand, while five contract and one was unchanged
Private-sector employment increased by 1,800 jobs and government employment increased 800 in August.
This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in education and health services with 3,900 new jobs created. In addition, wholesale trade added 1,200 jobs, transportation, warehousing and utilities was up 800, construction increased 600 and professional and business services moved up 500.
Manufacturing and the leisure and hospitality industries faced the biggest reductions, losing 1,700 jobs each. Other services cut 900 jobs and retail trade and financial services shed 600 and 400 positions respectively.
Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 95,300 new jobs from August 2015 to August 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.1 percent or 81,500 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.6 percent, adding 13,800 jobs.
From August 2015 to August 2016, 12 out of 13 industry sectors in Washington added jobs. Manufacturing was the only sector to report job losses (-4,500).
The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
- Education and health services with 19,800 new jobs;
- Construction with 14,600 new jobs; and
- Government 14,600 new jobs.