Economy Recovers More Jobs but Unemployment Rate Rises

Washington’s economy added 44,500 jobs in July and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for July rose slightly from 10.0 percent to 10.3 percent according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

MonthTotal Jobs (losses or gains)Unemployment rate2019 Unemployment Rate
March 2020–  25,4005.1 percent4.5 percent
April 2020-457,800*16.3 percent*4.4 percent
May 2020+90,500*15.1 percent4.4 percent
June 2020+ 140,600*10.0 percent*4.3 percent
July 2020+  44,500 10.3 percent4.2 percent
*Revised from previous preliminary estimates

“Although payroll job growth continued in July, the pace at which the jobs were added slowed,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Over the last three months, nearly half of the jobs lost during the pandemic have come back, but there remains a long way to go.”

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

The department also announced that June’s previously reported unemployment rate of 9.8 percent was revised upward to 10.0 percent. June’s preliminary estimated gain of 71,000 jobs was revised to a gain of 140,600 jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 11.1% percent in June 2020 to 10.2 percent in July 2020. In July 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.7 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 590,401 people in July, an increase of 24,601 over the previous month.

More employed and unemployed workers enter the state labor force

The state’s labor force in July was 3,968,200 – an increase of 75,000 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 2,200 over the same period.

From July 2019 through July 2020, the state’s labor force grew by 48,500 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 15,000.

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

From June 2020 to July 2020, the number of people who were unemployed statewide increased from 389,800 to 408,000. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 166,300 to 142,800 over the same period.

Nine industry sectors expanded and four sectors contracted in July

Private sector employment increased by 37,000 jobs while government employment increased by 7,500 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

  Industry sector                                        Job gains/losses

Leisure and hospitality+15,900
Government+  7,500
Education and health services+  7,300
Professional & business services+  5,100
Retail trade+  4,700
Other services+  2,500
Transportation, warehousing and utilities+  2,300
Financial activities+  1,300
Construction+  1,000
Mining and logging–      100
Manufacturing–      400
Wholesale trade–    1,100
Information–    1,500

Year-over-year loss in payroll employment evident in public and private sectors

Washington lost an estimated 245,000 jobs from July 2019 through July 2020, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment fell by 7.3 percent, down an estimated 212,600 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 5.6 percent with a net loss of 32,400 jobs.

From July 2019 through July 2020, all thirteen major industry sectors contracted except retail trade.

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

  • Leisure and hospitality down 103,300 jobs
  • Government down 32,400 jobs
  • Education and health services down 24,400 jobs