King County had low unemployment, job force expansions in June

Despite two back-to-back quarters of declining national gross domestic product (GDP), King County isn’t in a recession. The county’s economy is actually doing quite well, according to Anneliese Vance-Sherman, an Employment Security Department (ESD) economist.

Several factors including King County’s unemployment rates, job growth and wage increases indicate that the local economy is recovering from the COVID-19-caused recession. However, lowering GDP and inflation blur the line between recession and recovery.

The county’s unemployment rate remains at pre-pandemic levels, in June the rate was 2.7%, up slightly from April’s record-setting 1.7%, according to the ESD. Twelve months ago the rate was 4.8%.

In addition to low unemployment rates, there’s been decent nonfarm job growth in King County, both month to month and in the last year. From May to June 2022, King County’s nonfarm employment grew by 14,300 jobs, according to the ESD.

Employment in King County this June was up 145,900 or 10.9% compared to employment in June of 2020, ESD data shows.

Each sector of industry in King County added jobs over the month of June except for educational services, government, finance and professional services which either lost jobs or experienced no change.

The leisure and hospitality sector, which experienced the worst losses due to COVID-19 added 3,500 jobs over the month of June and 24,100 over the past 12 months, according to the ESD.

Government jobs fell by 4,300 over the month, however, government employment typically expands in times of economic stress and decreases when the economy is strong. So the fact government employment dropped during June isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the economy.

The Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, which offers quarterly forecasts of Washington’s economic health suggests that the state is poised to fully recover from the jobs lost in 2020.