Washington state’s initial job figures from last month showed a gain of 5,000 jobs, but also a rise in the unemployment rate from 8.3 percent in June to 8.5 percent in July, according to the state Employment Security Department.
While the preliminary estimates are expected to be revised over the next month, state economists said the market has shown year-over-year growth.
In July 2011, the state’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent. Since then, the total labor force has grown by more than 39,000, and the number of unemployed workers who are actively looking for a job has shrunk by about 24,500, according to the Employment Security Department.
“The July (2012) numbers illustrate that surveys aren’t perfect, and preliminary results are often revised later,” said Joe Elling, Employment Security’s chief labor economist, in a press release. “When you compare where we are now to the same period a year ago, it’s apparent that the labor market is improving.”
State officials said the rise in unemployment stemmed largely from a 9,700 decline in the total workforce and a small increase in the number of unemployed people looking for work.
Most of the July job growth occurred in what the state calls the “other services” sector, which includes service-related businesses such as equipment repair, religious activities, dry cleaning, funeral services, pet care and dating services.
The biggest losses were found in the professional and business services sector, which had seen substantial growth over the previous several months.
By the Numbers
Industries with most new jobs in July: “other services” (2,900), education and health services (1,900), manufacturing (1,600), wholesale trade (1,200), leisure and hospitality (1,200), transportation, warehousing and utilities (900), financial activities (900)
Industries losing jobs: professional and business services (down 4,600), government (down 1,300)
Growth in federal government jobs in Washington: 300
Growth in public education: 500
Growth in local government: 300
Loss in state government agencies: 2,400
Number of unemployment people looking for work: 298,000
Number claiming unemployment benefits: 139,444
Number who ran out of benefits: 4,212