OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 8,300 jobs in May and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.3 percent from April to May, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).
“The demand for labor is strong and more job seekers are coming back into the labor force” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “The employment gain in May is another step towards recovering the jobs lost in 2020.”
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 April’s previously reported unemployment rate of 5.5 percent was revised to 5.4 percent. April’s preliminary estimated gain of 11,200 jobs was revised upward to a gain of 13,200 jobs.
The national unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent in April to 5.8 percent in May. In May 2020, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 13.3 percent.
ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 394,220 people in May, an increase of 18,156 over the previous month.
More workers are returning to the job market
The state’s labor force in May was 3,875,600 – an increase of 14,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 1,800 over the same period.
From May 2020 to May 2021, the state’s labor force decreased by 29,300 while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 36,100.
The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.
From April to May, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 209,400 to 205,200. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 93,500 to 90,000 over the same period.
Seven industry sectors expanded, five industry sectors contracted and one industry sector remained constant in May
Private sector employment increased by 7,000 jobs while government employment increased by 1,300 jobs.
Employment is growing annually
Washington gained an estimated 248,900 jobs from May 2020 – May 2021, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 9.0 percent, up an estimated 229,500 jobs, while public sector employment rose by 3.5 percent with a net loss of 19,400 jobs.
From May 2020 – May 2021, twelve major industry sectors expanded while one industry sector contracted.
The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
Leisure and hospitality up 69,900 jobs
Retail trade up 49,100 jobs
Education and health services up 48,300 jobs
The one industry sector which contracted year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, was manufacturing, which was down 9,900 jobs.