Washington labor market continues to improve

Report: State’s economy adds more jobs in October; unemployment rate falls to 5.4 percent

  • Wednesday, November 30, 2016 9:24am
  • Business

Washington’s economy added another 10,600 new jobs in October and the state’s unemployment rate fell from 5.6 to 5.4 percent, according to a new report from the Employment Security Department.

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

“Job growth has rebounded strongly this fall following a lull in hiring activity this past summer,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Employers are feeling less cautious about the national economy and global markets, which has translated into greater employment opportunities for Washington’s growing workforce.”

The national unemployment rate increased to 4.9 percent in October. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area dropped from 3.9 percent in September to 3.8 percent in October.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 52,882 people in October.

Labor force increases in Washington

The state’s labor force grew to 3.67 million in October, an increase of 22,900 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 14,500 during the same period.

From October 2015 to October 2016, the state’s labor force grew by 120,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 54,000.

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

Eight sectors expand, while five contract

Private-sector employment increased by 12,200 jobs and government employment decreased 1,600 in October.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality with 7,400 new jobs created. In addition, construction added 1,900 jobs, professional and business services was up 1,600, retail trade added 1,500, education and health services moved up by 1,100 and other services increased by 1,000.

Manufacturing and government faced the biggest reductions, losing 1,700 and 1,600 jobs respectively. Wholesale trade cut 400 jobs and information and financial activities shed 300 jobs each.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 102,000 new jobs from October 2015 to October 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.3 percent or 86,600 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.7 percent, adding 15,400 jobs.

From October 2015 to October 2016, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Mining and logging remained unchanged. Manufacturing was the only sector to report job losses (-5,100).

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

• Education and health services with 21,000 new jobs;

• Government with 15,400 new jobs; and

• Professional and business services with 13,300 new jobs.

ESD has new labor market web information and tools, including a video tutorial to highlight popular information and data.

Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization” for states to include the third 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 third quarter 2016 was 10.7 percent compared to the national rate of 9.8 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

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