Construction led job growth in August, but state unemployment rose

The construction sector led statewide employment gains in August, but loses were felt in other industries and the state’s unemployment rate also rose slightly, according to the latest figures from the state Employment Security Department.

The preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 8.6 percent. While that rate is below the August 2011 rate of 9.1 percent, statewide unemployment in 2012 has shown an upward trend in since April when the rate was at 8.2 percent—its lowest level since January 2009.

State officials said Washington’s construction industry added a seasonally adjusted estimate of 1,900 jobs in August. The sector has a net gain of 3,900 jobs since August 2011.

Manufacturing followed with a gain of 1,500 jobs.

August estimates in the leisure and hospitality industry and the wholesale trade industry showed unusually large losses, according to state officials. Both sectors brought an estimated net loss of 1,100 jobs statewide.

“Based on the raw data, jobs in these sectors didn’t change significantly,” said Joe Elling, the state’s chief labor economist, in a press release. “The reported losses show up when the seasonal adjustments are applied.”

Economists seasonally adjust monthly job numbers and the unemployment rate to remove or discount normal seasonal variations, such as holiday hiring. If an industry adds more jobs or doesn’t eliminate as many jobs as expected based on past history, it shows up as a seasonally adjusted gain.

Similarly, when jobs are cut deeper than expected in a given month, or if normal hiring doesn’t occur, that shows up as a job loss. Elling said it can take two to three years to determine if changes from seasonal norms are temporary or long-term.

August employment, by the numbers 

-Industries with the most seasonally adjusted job gains included manufacturing (up 1,500); financial activities (up 1,200); education and health services (up 500); and government (up 300).

-Losses were felt in: wholesale trade (down 2,600); leisure and hospitality (down 2,300); retail trade (down 1,600); and professional and business services (down 200).

-An estimated 301,700 people (seasonally adjusted) were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 129,676 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.

-Additionally, 3,429 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits, bringing that total to 108,669 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.

Read the full employment report at:

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