Employment grows modestly in September

Washington’s economy added 2,400 jobs in September and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for September decreased from 8.4 percent (adjusted) to 7.8 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+ 62,400 10.2 percent*4.2 percent
August 2020+  69,000*  8.4 percent*4.2 percent
September 2020+    2,400  7.8 percent4.1 percent
*Revised from previous preliminary estimates

“Payroll growth slowed markedly in September,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “A shift to remote learning apparently led to less government hiring than usual this time of year, which showed up largely in local education.”

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 August’s previously reported unemployment rate of 8.5 percent was revised slightly downward to 8.4 percent. August’s preliminary estimated gain of 19,800 jobs was revised to a gain of 69,000 jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 8.4 percent in August to 7.9 percent in September 2020. In September 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.5 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 553,287 people in September, an increase of 47,719 over the previous month.

More individuals exit the labor force

The state’s labor force in September was 3,901,400– a decrease of 55,800 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 19,600 over the same period.

From September 2019 through September 2020, the state’s labor force decreased by 38,700 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 32,100.

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

From August 2020 to September 2020, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 333,600 to 303,400. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 126,400 to 119,900 over the same period.

Eight industry sectors expanded and five sectors contracted in September

Private sector employment increased by 12,100 jobs while government employment decreased by 9,700 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

 Industry sector                                      Job gains/losses

Leisure & hospitality+  6,700
Construction+  2,700
Professional & business services+  2,000
Information+  1,900
Education & health services+     900
Retail trade+     600
Financial activities+     300
Mining and logging+     100
Other services–      100
Transportation, warehousing & utilities–      400
Wholesale trade–      700
Manufacturing–     1,900
Government–     9,700

 Most payroll jobs lost year-over-year have been in leisure and hospitality

Washington lost an estimated 203,900 jobs from September 2019 through September 2020, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment fell by 6.1 percent, down an estimated 179,100 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 4.3 percent with a net loss of 24,800 jobs.

From September 2019 through September 2020, eleven major industry sectors contracted while two industry sector expanded.

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

  • Leisure and hospitality down 90,100 jobs
  • Manufacturing down 27,100 jobs
  • Government down 24,800 jobs

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