For the Reporter
Washington’s economy added 6,100 jobs in December and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate came in at 4.5 percent, according to the Employment Security Department.
“Washington employers on balance are steadily creating jobs, more people are going to work and unemployment is hovering at record lows,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “That’s a perfect recipe for producing a healthy labor market.”
The Employment Security Department released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its December Monthly Employment Report. The department also announced that November’s previously announced unemployment rate of 4.5 percent was revised downward to 4.4 percent – a new low for unemployment in Washington. Similarly, November job gains were revised upward from 9,800 to 11,100 jobs.
The national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in December. In December last year, the Washington’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 63,570 people in December.
Labor force shrinks in Washington
The state’s labor force was 3.7 million in December — a decrease of 9,500 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 6,000 over the same period.
From December 2016 through December 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 86,000 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 26,100.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
Eight sectors expand, four contract, one unchanged
Private sector employment increased by 2,000 and government employment increased by 4,100 jobs in December.
This month’s report shows the greatest private job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality up 3,900, manufacturing up 2,400, and construction up 1,500. Other sectors adding jobs were information up 900, education and health services and financial services both up 600, and transportation, warehousing and utilities up 400.
Professional and business services faced the biggest reduction in December, losing 3,300 jobs. Additionally, retail trade cut 2,800, other services eliminated 1,600 and wholesale trade trimmed 600 jobs respectively. Mining and logging was unchanged.
Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington added an estimated 95,500 new jobs from December 2016 through December 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.1 percent or 84,100 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2 percent, adding 11,400 jobs.
From December 2016 through December 2017, all 13 industry sectors added jobs.
The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
• Professional and business services with 14,300 new jobs;
• Construction with 14,000 new jobs; and
• Education and health services with 12,700 new jobs.
Employment Security is a partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which offers a variety of employment and training services for job seekers, including free help with resumes, interviewing and skills training. WorkSource also helps employers advertise jobs, convene hiring events and connect with subsidized employee training.
Find WorkSource locations and more than 140,000 job openings on WorkSourceWA.com.