State job growth slows, unemployment rate stays flat

A 22-month streak of job growth in Washington state ended in September and October, while statewide unemployment stayed flat through both months, according to the latest report from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

The number of seasonally adjusted jobs in Washington fell by an estimated 1,400 in September and 8,100 in October, according to the new figures. Paul Turek, a state labor economist, noted that Washington actually saw job gains during both months, but not as many as normal, registering the final tallies as job losses once seasonable adjustments are made.

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained largely the same the past two months. From the 7 percent rate in August, it dipped slightly to 6.9 percent in September and returned to an estimated 7 percent in October.

Due to the 16-day federal government shutdown in October, the September employment report was not issued that month. The data for both months were combined into a single report issued today by Washington’s Employment Security Department.

Federal jobs furloughs did not affect the October job numbers, since those jobs were not eliminated, said Turek. However, the furloughs may have affected the estimated unemployment rate, which is based on a survey that asks individuals whether they were working during the second week of the month.

Both the job numbers and the unemployment rate may be revised as more information comes in.

Industries with job gains in October wholesale trade, up 1,000; retail trade, up 400; other services, up 300; government, up 200 jobs, mostly in K-12 education and state higher education; and the transportation, warehousing and utilities industry, up 100.

Industries that reported job losses included education and health services, down 2,800 jobs; construction, down 2,800; leisure and hospitality, down 2,700; manufacturing, down 1,300 jobs; professional and business services, down 300; financial activities, down 100; and information, down 100.

In October, an estimated 241,300 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 94,951 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.

Updated county-level employment data are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, Nov. 26.


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