Washington State Jobs Picture Shows Slow Growth

Apr 16, 2014

Sign on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building, Washington, D.C., January 1, 2012.
Sign on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building, Washington, D.C., January 1, 2012.
Credit Flickr Photo/Victoria Pickering

The latest figures show the unemployment rate in Washington state is holding steady at 6.3 percent. The Employment Security Department said the state added an estimated 6,700 jobs in March. The biggest job gains last month were seen in professional and business services.

Officials said that the rate matches February's jobless numbers, which had been revised down from an original estimate of 6.4 percent.

Paul Turek, a labor economist for the state of Washington, said the short-term employment trend is moving in the right direction. “We’re slowly getting there which is better than not getting there at all," he said.

Washington is doing better than the rest of the country, and the Seattle area is doing better than the rest of the state. But despite all the gains, Washington’s unemployment rate held steady because of job losses in government and wholesale trade.

Unemployment trends in King County, Washington state and the US from 2008-2014.
Unemployment trends in King County, Washington state and the US from 2008-2014.
Credit Washington State Employment Security Department

Two different surveys are used to calculate unemployment figures, job losses and gains.

The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively looking for work. People who have stopped looking for work are not counted. The job gains and losses estimates are based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of businesses.

Turek said that the state's total labor force of nearly 3.5 million expanded by about 9,500 last month, indicating more people are starting to look for work.

Employment gains were "improving the confidence of workers who have been sitting out and are now moving into the labor force to try and find better job prospects," he said in a conference call with reporters.

Officials said that during the one-year period ending in March, nearly 61,000 jobs have been added statewide, including more than 18,000 since the start of the year.