Hiring in Washington State Slows, Employment Report Shows

Unemployment in the greater Seattle area, however, continues to trend downward
Updated: Wed, 09/18/2019 - 14:17
  • Unemployment in the greater Seattle Area, however, continues to trend downward

Employers in Washington added a total of 2,300 jobs in August, retreating from a downwardly revised job gain of 5,900 jobs in July, according to preliminary estimates released by the Washington Employment Security Department.

The state’s unemployment rate in August remained unchanged from July, at 4.6%, but has ticked up slightly since August 2018, when it was 4.4%. That trend was reversed in the greater Seattle area, where the unemployment rate stood at 3.1% in August, down from 3.2% in July and 3.3% in August 2018. Nationally, the unemployment rate stood at 3.7% in August, down from 3.8% in August 2018.

“The slower hiring [statewide] in August tended to be broad based with more industries shedding jobs than adding them” said Paul Turek, economist for the Employment Security Department (ESD). “Coupled with the downward revision to July’s payroll numbers [from 13,400 to 5,900 jobs], today’s report shows weaker hiring since the start of the year.”

Over the year ending this past August, the state added a total of 65,200 jobs, the bulk of those in the private sector. The largest gain in private job growth in August was in the education and health services sector, up 2,800 jobs, followed by wholesale trade, up 1,400 jobs; and information, up 1,200 jobs. The big losers for the month were leisure and hospitality, down 1,400 jobs; followed by retail trade, down 800 jobs; and construction, down 700 jobs.

Ten of the state’s 13 major industry sectors added jobs while three shed jobs over the 12 months through this past August. The sectors posting the largest job gains over the period were professional and business services, up 14,200 jobs; education and health services, up 13,700 jobs; and information, up 10,300 jobs. 

The overall size of the state’s labor force stood at 3,895,600 in August, up by 10,900 over July. The greater Seattle area workforce expanded by 4,400 workers over the same period. Between August 2018 and August 2019, the state’s labor force expanded by 93,200 while greater Seattle’s workforce jumped by 33,800.

“Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 46,149 people in August,” the ESD report states.

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