OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 23,100 jobs in March and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate decreased from 5.6 percent in February to 5.4 percent in March, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).
“Broad gains in hiring continued from February through March in response to the improving public health position,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Although employment remains below pre-pandemic levels, the state’s labor market is on track to make up the deficit relatively quickly.”
ESD released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.
The department also announced that February’s previously reported unemployment rate of 5.6 was confirmed. February’s preliminary estimated gain of 24,500 jobs was revised to a gain of 33,200 jobs.
The national unemployment rate decreased from 6.2 percent in February to 6.0 percent in March. In March 2020, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 4.4 percent.
ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 428,790 people in March, an increase of 28,246 over the previous month.
<b>More workers are returning to the job market</b>
The state’s labor force in March was 3,849,500– an increase of 12,500 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 5,200 over the same period.
From March 2020 to March 2021, the state’s labor force decreased by 82,500 while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 35,200.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
From February to March the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 215,600 to 209,500. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 95,000 to 93,600 over the same period.
Eleven industry sectors expanded, one sector contracted and one sector was unchanged in March
Private sector employment increased by 18,600 jobs while government employment increased by 4,500 jobs.
<b>Employment still down from a year ago</b>
Washington lost an estimated 166,400 jobs from March 2020 – March 2021, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment fell by 4.2 percent, down an estimated 121,200 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 7.5 percent with a net loss of 45,200 jobs.
From March 2020 – March 2021, nine major industry sectors contracted while four industry sectors expanded.
The three industry sectors with the largest employment losses year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
Leisure and hospitality down 74,900 jobs
Government down 45,200 jobs
Manufacturing down 27,200 jobs
The four industry sectors which expanded year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
Retail trade up 6,800 jobs
Information up 4,400 jobs
Construction up 3,100 jobs
Education and health services up 2,100 jobs