Employment Moves Lower

Washington’s economy lost 1,600 jobs in October and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for October fell slightly to 4.5 percent according to the Employment Security Department.

“The labor market continues sending mixed messages this month” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Household members are finding jobs in spite of businesses reporting rollbacks. What’s becoming more evident overall is that hiring conditions are softening.”

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 September’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.6 was confirmed. September’s preliminary estimated loss of 3,100 jobs was revised to a loss of 5,400 jobs.

The national unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6 percent in October 2019. In October 2018, the national unemployment rate was 3.8 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 45,942 people in October.

The labor market absorbs more job seekers

The state’s labor force in October was 3,922,300 – an increase of 15,200 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 7,000 over the same period.

From October 2018 through October 2019, the state’s labor force grew by 100,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 39,400.

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

Four industry sectors expanded, eight contracted and one remained unchanged

Private sector employment decreased by 1,500 while the public sector decreased by 100 jobs in October. This month’s report shows the largest private job growth occurred in retail trade up 1,300 jobs, information up 800 jobs, construction up 700 jobs and financial activities up 600 jobs. Other services posted the largest decline down 1,300 jobs followed by manufacturing down 1,100 jobs, education & health services down 1,000 jobs and wholesale trade down 800 jobs. Also posting losses were professional & business services and transportation, warehousing & utilities each lost 300 jobs while both government and mining & logging each lost 100 jobs. Leisure and hospitality was the only industry sector that remained unchanged.

Year-over-year growth in payroll employment

Washington added an estimated 67,600 new jobs from October 2018 through October 2019, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.2 percent, up an estimated 61,400 jobs, while public sector employment rose 1.0 percent with a net gain of 6,200 jobs.

From October 2018 through October 2019, twelve out of the thirteen major industries added jobs while one sector contracted.

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

  • Information with 13,400 new jobs
  • Professional & business services with 10,100 new jobs
  • Education & health services with 7,800 new jobs

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