Washington’s job market experienced a boost in September with the addition of approximately 7,900 jobs. Despite the increase in jobs, the unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.6%, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).
ESD’s State Economist, Paul Turek, observed, “The rate at which jobs grew this month surpassed the growth from the previous month.” He noted that while there’s a consistent demand for workers, the general trend still leans towards a slower job growth rate.
In September, 54,073 individuals received unemployment benefits from the ESD—2,862 fewer than in August. The reduction in claims primarily came from the transportation, warehousing, health care, and social assistance sectors.
Interestingly, in the data for August 2023, it was initially estimated that 2,900 jobs were added. However, this number was later adjusted to a growth of 2,500 jobs. National figures reflected a similar trend, with the national unemployment rate in September at 3.8%.
Examining the broader workforce in Washington, there was a slight dip in September, with 6,000 fewer people. This labor force includes everyone above 16, both employed and unemployed. It’s important to understand that being part of the labor force doesn’t just mean being employed. Even if someone is jobless but is actively seeking work, they’re counted. So, a decline in the labor force indicates that people have stopped actively looking for jobs for over a month.
Zooming into specific sectors in September, private companies added 6,900 jobs, while government positions increased by 1,000. Major job growth sectors included professional and business services, education, and health. On the flip side, construction and other services witnessed a decline in employment. Retail services lost 800 jobs in September—3,200 jobs in total year-over-year.
Looking at the yearly growth from September 2022 to September 2023, Washington saw an impressive addition of 55,300 jobs. The sectors that led this growth were education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government. However, some sectors, like information and retail trade, experienced a decrease in jobs.