Employers Add More Jobs in August, Unemployment Rate Falls

Washington’s economy added 19,800 jobs in August and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for August decreased from 10.2 percent (adjusted) to 8.5 percent according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

MonthTotal Jobs (losses or gains)Unemployment rate2019 Unemployment Rate
March 2020–  28,3005.1 percent4.5 percent
April 2020-528,600*16.3 percent*4.4 percent
May 2020+ 90,500*15.1 percent4.4 percent
June 2020+108,200*10.0 percent*4.3 percent
July 2020+ 102,800 10.2 percent*4.2 percent
August 2020+  19,800  8.5 percent4.2 percent
*Revised from previous preliminary estimates

“The swings in payroll employment have been sizeable since March,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Although the jobs market continues to heal, August marks a slowdown from the initial hiring rebound from reopening.”

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 July’s previously reported unemployment rate of 10.3 percent was revised slightly downward to 10.2 percent. July’s preliminary estimated gain of 44,500 jobs was revised to a gain of 102,800 jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 10.2 percent in July 2020 to 8.4 percent in August 2020. In August 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.7 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 508,568 people in August, a decrease of 81,833 over the previous month

State labor force contracts slightly

The state’s labor force in August was 3,955,100 – a decrease of 6,000 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 6,300 over the same period.

From August 2019 through August 2020, the state’s labor force grew by 24,400 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 9,900.

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

From July 2020 to August 2020, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 403,700 to 337,800. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 141,300 to 127,600 over the same period.

Ten industry sectors expanded, one was unchanged and two sectors contracted in August

Private sector employment increased by 6,700 jobs while government employment increased by 13,100 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

      Industry sector                                       Job gains/losses

Government+ 13,100
Retail trade+  4,300
Professional & business services+  3,900
Transportation, warehousing and utilities+  1,000
Education & health services+     500
Financial activities+     500
Construction+     500
Information+     400
Leisure & hospitality+     300
Mining and logging+     100
Other services            0
Wholesale trade–     1,200
Manufacturing–     3,600

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

Washington lost an estimated 216,100 jobs from August 2019 through August 2020, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment fell by 6.9 percent, down an estimated 203,200 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 2.3 percent with a net loss of 12,900 jobs.

From August 2019 through August 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 100,500 jobs
  • Manufacturing down 27,800 jobs
  • Education and health services down 24,700 jobs

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