State unemployment rate inched up in August

The Bellingham Business Journal

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 9.2 percent in August, up from July’s revised rate of 8.9 percent, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The state lost an estimated 8,000 non-agricultural jobs in August, seasonally adjusted, after a revised gain of 11,800 jobs in July.

Industries with the largest declines were in professional and business services, which cut 2,500 jobs; retail trade, down 2,400; and education and health services, which lost 1,800 jobs.  Industries with the most job growth included government, with 1,800 new jobs; leisure and hospitality, which added 800; transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 700; and construction, up 200.

The small gain in construction is the first rise in that sector since January 2008.  It may be due to cautious optimism within the industry, say Employment Security economists.

Year over year, Washington had 126,100 fewer jobs last month than in August 2008, a 4.2 percent decrease.  Nationally, employment declined by 4.3 percent over the past year.

An estimated 319,125 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in July.

“The recession may be coming to an end, but thousands of our unemployed workers will run out of unemployment benefits before the job market begins to recover,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee.  “We need Congress to authorize another extension for unemployment benefits.”

Lee also urged unemployed workers to inquire about assessment and training opportunities that are available through their local WorkSource career centers.

“Sometimes the key to getting a job is improving your work skills, and we can help with that,” said Lee. “We’re here to help people turn hard times into better times.”

Get the full report here.

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