State Unemployment Falls to New Low

Washington’s economy added 4,500 jobs in September and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for September was 4.4 percent according to the Employment Security Department. The September unemployment rate decreased slightly from the August 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, making it the lowest rate recorded based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data series dating back to 1976.

“The state’s labor market is strong,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Employers have been adding jobs to where most workers seeking one have been able to find one.”

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 August’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.5 was confirmed. However, August’s preliminary estimated gain of 9,100 jobs was revised upward to a gain of 9,400 jobs.

The national unemployment rate dropped slightly to 3.7 percent in September. In September 2017, the national unemployment rate was 4.2 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 44,558 people in September.

State’s labor force continued to grow

The state’s labor force in September was 3,770,900 – an increase of 5,200 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 1,900 over the same period.

From September 2017 through September 2018, the state’s labor force grew by 19,300 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 22,600.

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

Eight industry sectors expanded, two remained unchanged and three contracted

Private sector employment increased by 3,900 while the public sector added 600 jobs in September. This month’s report shows the greatest private job growth occurred in retail trade up 2,100, education & health services up 2,000, financial activities up 1,700 and manufacturing up 1,400.  Other sectors adding jobs were government up 600, other services up 500, information up 300 and transportation, warehousing & utilities up 100.

The number of jobs in both the mining & logging as well as professional & business services sectors remained constant in September.

Leisure & hospitality experienced the biggest reduction in September losing 2,500 jobs while construction lost 1,400 jobs and wholesale trade lost 300 jobs.

Year-over-year growth maintains strong trend

Washington added an estimated 99,700 new jobs from September 2017 through September 2018, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.5 percent, up an estimated 97,100 jobs, while public sector employment increased by 0.5 percent with a net gain of 2,600 jobs.

From September 2017 through September 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 24,000 new jobs;
  • Construction with 11,700 new jobs and
  • Education & health services with 15,200 new jobs