OLYMPIA – Washington’s added 1,200 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell from 4.7 to 4.6 percent – matching the state’s historic low for unemployment last reached in June 2007, according to the state Employment Security Department.
“While job growth was more subdued in April, Washington’s economy continues to trend positively,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Jobs are being created, unemployment continues to fall and the labor market is tightening.”
The state released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its April Monthly Employment Report.
In April last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.6 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent this April and 3.3 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 60,386 people in April.
Labor force continues to grow in Washington
The state’s labor force rose to 3.69 million — an increase of 3,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 600 over the same period. From April 2016 through April 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 67,900 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 37,500. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
Five sectors expand, six contract, two unchanged
Private sector employment decreased by 700 and government employment increased by 1,900 jobs in April. This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government up 1,900, transportation, warehousing and utilities up 1,600 and wholesale trade up 1,300 new jobs. In addition, retail trade added 900 jobs and information increased 400. Education and health services faced the biggest reduction in April, losing 1,200 jobs. Financial activities cut 1,000, leisure and hospitality and professional and business services eliminated 900 each, manufacturing trimmed 800 and other services shaved 100. Construction and mining and logging were unchanged.
Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 76,500 new jobs from April 2016 through April 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.3 percent or 61,700 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.6 percent, adding 14,800 jobs. From April 2016 through April 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-8,100) 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:
Retail trade with 16,100 new jobs;
Government with 14,800 new jobs; and
Construction with 13,700 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.
Deputy Communications Director
Employment Security Department