Washington’s unemployment rate held at 4.6 percent in September and preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show the state gained 13,800 jobs over the month.
“Washington economy is in great shape,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Businesses continue to add jobs and more people are joining the labor force.”
The Employment Security Department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from BLS as part of its September Monthly Employment Report.
Last September, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.3 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.2 percent this September and 3.8 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 45,929 people in September.
Labor force continues to grow in Washington
The state’s labor force rose to 3.76 million in September — an increase of 29,900 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 9,800 over the same period.
From September 2016 through September 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 91,300 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 20,100.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
Nine sectors expand, three contract, one unchanged
Private sector employment increased by 6,000 and government employment increased by 7,800 jobs in September.
This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government — up 7,800 — and in leisure and hospitality, up 3,400. Other sectors adding jobs were information (+900), retail trade (+700), education and health services (+600), construction (+400), wholesale trade (+400), financial activities (+300), and professional and business services (+200).
Manufacturing faced the biggest reduction in September, losing 400 jobs. Additionally, transportation, warehousing and utilities cut 300 and leisure and other services eliminated 200. Mining and logging was unchanged.
Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 76,100 new jobs from September 2016 through September 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.3 percent or 61,400 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.6 percent, adding 14,700 jobs.
From September 2016 through September 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-3,500) and mining and logging (-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:
- Government with 14,700 new jobs;
- Construction with 12,700 new jobs; and
- Education and health services with 9,600 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 second quarter of 2017. 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 U-6 rate for Washington through the second quarter 2017 was 9.7 percent compared to the national rate of 9.2 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.