Report: Washington experienced continued economic growth in 2018

Economic growth in Washington expanded in the first half of 2018, building on the 4.7 percent growth in 2017, according to the Labor Market and Economic Annual Report, produced by the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD)

It marked the highest growth rate of any state for the second straight year, well above the 2.2 percent growth achieved by the nation.

The report covers comparisons for 2017 annual statistics, as well as those for the first three quarters of 2018, based on the available data at the time this report was written, in the fourth quarter of 2018.

“Our Labor Market and Economic Analysis (LMEA) team provides great resources for job seekers, employers and policy makers to make informed career, hiring or policy decisions – and this 2018 report is just one of those many resources,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi Levine.

As an overview of Washington state’s labor market and economy through the first three quarters of 2018, the report includes analyses of employment conditions and trends, unemployment, wages, income and employment projections. Economists and policy makers can use this report to track Washington’s economic trends. ESD produces the report with guidance from the Revised Code of Washington, section 50.38.040, Annual report.

Check out this video featuring Labor Market Information Director Steven Ross and Commissioner LeVine, discussing the highlights of the report and other resources offered by the LMEA team.

Report summary

Data in the 2018 Labor Market and Economic Report are gathered by the Employment Security Department and other government agencies, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as from the private sector.

Here are just a few of the key findings in the report:

• December 2018 Year-Over-Year Job Growth – Washington recorded the third highest annual average gain of job growth at 3 percent and a year-over-year increase of 3.1 percent. The Seattle metro area accounted for about 63 percent of the state’s net increase — slightly more than its share of the state’s employment base.

• Every major industrial sector, except for mining and logging, added jobs.

• The state unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in September 2018 compared to the U.S. rate of 3.7 percent. Washington’s unemployment rate of 4.4 percent at the time was at an historical low for the state based on the statistical series maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics dating back to 1976.

• Total non-farm employment in Washington state is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.59 percent until 2026. Computer and mathematical occupations, management occupations and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations were projected to grow faster than other occupational groups from 2016 to 2026. By 2026, office and administrative support occupations are projected to comprise the largest share of total occupational employment.

• Based upon the most recently published annual data, the median household income in Washington, as measured in 2017 dollars, rose by 14.3 percent from 2013 to 2017.

• Job gains were greatest in occupations that paid between $12 and $17.99 per hour.

• From 2001 to 2017, jobs paying an hourly wage of $54 and above grew faster than jobs in middle and lower wage categories.


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