Labor Market Continued to Improve in August

Washington’s economy added 9,100 jobs in August and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for August was 4.5 percent according to the Employment Security Department. The August unemployment rate decreased slightly from the July 2018 unemployment rate of 4.6 percent and is the lowest rate for August since 1976.

“The state data continues to demonstrate the positive trends in its economy,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “The civilian labor force is up in August, and total unemployment is down, both month-to-month and over the year.”

The Employment Security Department released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.

The department also announced that July’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.6 was confirmed. However, July’s preliminary estimated gain of 12,400 jobs was revised downward to a gain of 11,800 jobs.

The national unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent in August. In August 2017, the national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 44,845 people in August.

State’s labor force continued to grow

The state’s labor force in August was 3,766,000 – an increase of 2,800 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 300 over the same period.

From August 2017 through August 2018, the state’s labor force grew by 22,800 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 25,800.

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

Nine industry sectors expanded, one remained unchanged and three contracted

Private sector employment increased by 9,300 while the public sector lost 200 jobs in August.
This month’s report shows the greatest private job growth occurred in professional & business services up 3,300, construction up 2,900 and leisure & hospitality up 2,200.  Other sectors adding jobs were information up 700, wholesale trade and education & health services both up 300, transportation, warehousing & utilities and financial activities both up 200 and other services up 100.

The number of jobs in the mining and logging sector remained constant in August.

Retail trade experienced the biggest reduction in August losing 800 jobs while government lost 200 jobs and manufacturing lost 100 jobs.

Year-over-year growth maintains strong trend

Washington added an estimated 109,400 new jobs from August 2017 through August 2018, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.9 percent, up an estimated 107,200 jobs, while public sector employment increased by 0.4 percent with a net gain of 2,200 jobs.

From August 2017 through August 2018, all thirteen industry sectors added jobs.

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

  • Professional & business services with 26,300 new jobs;
  • Construction with 15,300 new jobs and
  • Education & health services with 5,200 new jobs