OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy gained 6,800 jobs in January and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for January fell to 3.9 percent according to the Employment Security Department.
“Strong hiring of household members moved the state’s low unemployment rate even lower” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “A mild contraction in the state’s labor force added to the downward push.”
The Employment Security Department released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.
The department also announced that December’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.3 was confirmed. December’s preliminary estimated gain of 10,900 jobs was revised to a gain of 12,300 jobs.
The national unemployment rate (preliminary) was 3.6 percent in January 2020. In January 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 4.0 percent.
Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 77,784 people in January.
Labor force contracts slightly in January
The state’s labor force in January was 3,955,200 – a decrease of 1,600 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 5,100 over the same period.
From January 2019 through January 2020, the state’s labor force grew by 119,400 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 42,200.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
Nine industry sectors expanded and four contracted
Private sector employment increased by 5,700 while the public sector increased by 1,100 jobs in January. This month’s report shows the largest private job growth occurred in retail trade up 3,300 jobs, leisure and hospitality up 2,300 jobs, professional & business services up 1,900 jobs and information up 1,200 jobs. Also posting increases were manufacturing up 800 jobs, transportation, warehousing & utilities up 400 jobs and both mining & logging and education & health services up 100 jobs. The four industry sectors that posted losses were construction down 3,500 jobs, other services down 600 jobs, wholesale trade down 200 jobs and financial activities down 100 jobs.
Year-over-year growth in payroll employment occurs for most industries
Washington added an estimated 79,400 new jobs from January 2019 through January 2020, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.6 percent, up an estimated 74,000 jobs, while public sector employment rose 0.9 percent with a net gain of 5,400 jobs.
From January 2019 through January 2020, twelve out of the thirteen major industries added jobs while one sector contracted.
The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
Professional & business services with 14,000 new jobs
Education & health services with 12,200 new jobs
Leisure & hospitality with 11,700 new jobs