Washington’s economy lost an estimated 6,400 jobs (seasonally adjusted) and the monthly unemployment rate decreased to 3.6% in July.
“July’s weak payroll number offsets the strong gains seen in June. Together with the downward revisions to first-quarter job totals, July’s numbers indicate the state’s labor market is gradually cooling off,” said Employment Security Department (ESD) State Economist Paul Turek. “Even so, the unemployment rate continued to fall, showing that the labor market remains historically tight.”
Visit ESD’s website to view the entire Monthly Employment Report for July. ESD paid unemployment benefits to 55,172 people in July, a decrease of 895 paid claims over the previous month. Decreases in paid claims in the construction and manufacturing sectors contributed to the overall decrease in claims over the month.
National unemployment rate
The national unemployment rate decreased in July from 3.6% to 3.5%. For comparison, the national unemployment rate (revised) for June 2022 was 3.6%.
Updated state preliminary data for June 2023
- The preliminary estimated gain of 11,900 jobs for June 2023 was revised to a gain of 13,100 jobs.
- The seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate was revised from 3.7 to 3.6%.
Modest labor force growth
The state’s labor force in July numbered 4,069,400 – an increase of 1,500 people from the previous month.
In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 6,400 over the same period.
Labor force is defined as the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16. Layoffs and labor force participation are not necessarily connected. When people are laid off but still seeking work, they remain a part of the labor force. A drop in the labor force means people have left work and haven’t been actively seeking employment for more than four weeks.
From July 2022 to July 2023, the state’s labor force increased by 74,600, while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 42,300.
From June to July 2023, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 154,400 to 147,600. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed increased from 54,800 to 56,000 over the same period.
Most industries cut payrolls
Private sector employment decreased by 1,400 jobs from June to July while government employment decreased by 5,000 jobs.
Of the industry sectors in July:
- Four expanded.
- Eight contracted.
- One was unchanged.
Here are some key increases and decreases:
- Jobs in education and health services increased by 2,900 overall, with 3,200 jobs gained in ambulatory health care services.
- Government employment decreased by 5,000 overall, with 2,700 jobs lost in the state government educational services sector. Seasonal decreases in state government educational services typically push down government employment during the month of July.
- Professional and business services employment decreased by 1,400 overall, with 1,600 jobs lost in employment services.
- Manufacturing employment fell by 1,200, led by 1,100 jobs lost in food manufacturing.
- Construction employment decreased by 2,500 overall, with 1,600 jobs lost by specialty trade contractors.
- Employment in other services increased by 1,600 overall, with 1,600 jobs added in personal and laundry services.
Annual employment growth continues to slow
Washington gained an estimated 57,900 jobs from June 2022 to June 2023, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 1.5%, up an estimated 43,600 jobs, while public sector employment rose by 2.6% — up an estimated 14,300 jobs.
From July 2022 – July 2023, eight major industry sectors expanded and five decreased The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year over year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
- Education and health services, up 25,900 jobs.
- Leisure and hospitality, up 20,000 jobs.
- Government, up 14,300 jobs.