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Seattle Press
Community Log & News Digest
August Unemployment Marginally Up
- Business & Labor
OLYMPIA – The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly from 4.5 to 4.6 percent in August, primarily due to a jump in the state’s labor force, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“The stronger job market attracted many more job seekers into the labor force in August,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Although most found jobs, those who didn’t pushed the unemployment rate up a touch. Unemployment remains low and businesses continue to add jobs.”

Washington’s economy added an estimated 2,000 new jobs over the month. The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as part of its August Monthly Employment Report.

In August last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.4 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent this August and 3.7 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 48,504 people in August.

Labor force continues to grow in Washington

The state’s labor force rose to 3.7 million in August — an increase of 16,900 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 5,500 over the same period.

From August 2016 through August 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 69,000 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 14,700.

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

Seven sectors expand, six contract

Private sector employment increased by 4,900 and government employment decreased by 2,900 jobs in August.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in retail trade, up 1,900, and construction and transportation, warehousing and utilities both up 1,500. Other sectors adding jobs were education and health services up 900, wholesale trade up 600, information up 500 and financial services up 100.

Government and other services faced the biggest reduction in August, losing 2,900 and 1,100 jobs respectively. Additionally, professional and business services cut 600, leisure and hospitality eliminated 200, and manufacturing and mining and logging both shed 100.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 83,000 new jobs from August 2016 through August 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.5 percent or 67,200 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.9 percent, adding 15,800 jobs.

From August 2016 through August 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-4,600) 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:

<div style="margin-left: 10px;">Government with 15,800 new jobs;
Construction with 13,800 new jobs; and
Education and health services with 11,700 new jobs.
Check out Employment Security’s other labor market information and tools, including a video tutorial, to highlight popular information and data.</div>

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.

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