OLYMPIA – Washington’s record-low unemployment rate held firm in June at 4.5 percent, despite preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing the state gained 2,500 jobs over the month.
“Washington’s economy continues to add jobs slowly, just not enough for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to fall lower in June,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “There’s just not a lot of excess skilled labor available in the market for employers to dramatically increase hiring.”
The Employment Security Department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from BLS as part of its June Monthly Employment Report.
In June last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.5 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent this June and 3.4 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 49,148 people in June.
Labor force continues to grow in Washington
The state’s labor force rose to 3.69 million — an increase of 6,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 5,600 over the same period.
From June 2016 through June 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 56,500 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 21,400.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
Eight sectors expand, five contract
Private sector employment decreased by 300 and government employment increased by 2,800 jobs in June.
This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government up 2,800, wholesale trade up 2,000 and other services up 1,900 new jobs. Other sectors adding jobs were construction up 1,400, financial services up 1,100, information up 600 and mining and logging and transportation, warehousing and utilities each up 100.
Retail and education and health services faced the biggest reduction in June, losing 2,700 and 2,600 jobs respectively. Leisure and hospitality cut 1,200, professional and business services eliminated 600 and manufacturing trimmed 400.
Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 81,000 new jobs from June 2016 through June 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.3 percent or 63,500 jobs, and the public sector increased by 3.0 percent, adding 17,500 jobs.
From June 2016 through June 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-6,700) and logging (-100) 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 14,800 new jobs;
Construction with 15,100 new jobs; and
Retail trade with 11,000 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 first 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 first quarter 2017 was 10 percent compared to the national rate of 9.5 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.
Contact: Paul Turek, labor economist, 360-407-2306, or Bill Tarrow, deputy communications director, 360-902-9376