Payroll Hiring Continues to Slow in September

Washington’s economy lost 3,100 jobs in September and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for September was unchanged at 4.6 percent according to the Employment Security Department.

“Lackluster hiring in the public sector pushed the payroll number into negative territory this month” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “But the upward revision to last month’s payroll numbers together with hiring reported by households suggests our labor market is holding up.”

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 4.6 was confirmed. August’s preliminary estimated gain of 2,300 jobs was revised to a gain of 8,800 jobs.

The national unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.5 percent in September 2019. In September 2018, the national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 46,321 people in September.

The job seekers keep coming

The state’s labor force in September was 3,907,700 – an increase of 11,900 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 5,800 over the same period.

From September 2018 through September 2019, the state’s labor force grew by 94,400 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 35,500.

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

Nine industry sectors expanded, three contracted and one remained unchanged

Private sector employment increased by 3,800 while the public sector decreased by 6,900 jobs in September. This month’s report shows the largest private job growth occurred in retail trade up 1,900 jobs, wholesale trade up 1,000 jobs, financial activities up 900 jobs, education & health services up 800 jobs and construction up 700 jobs. Also posting increases were manufacturing up 400 jobs, leisure & hospitality and information both up 300 jobs and transportation, warehousing & utilities up 100 jobs. Government posted the largest decline down 6,900 jobs followed by other services down by 1,700 jobs and professional & business services down 900 jobs.  Mining & logging was the only industry sector that remained unchanged.

Year-over-year growth in payroll employment

Washington added an estimated 66,000 new jobs from September 2018 through September 2019, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.2 percent, up an estimated 63,200 jobs, while public sector employment rose 0.5 percent with a net gain of 2,800 jobs.

From September 2018 through September 2019, ten out of the thirteen major industries added jobs while three sectors contracted.

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

  • Professional & business services with 13,800 new jobs
  • Education & health services with 13,800 new jobs
  • Information with 9,400 new jobs