Washington state’s jobless rate dropped to 5.8 percent in June, a level not seen since September 2008.
Joblessness in the Seattle area, which includes Bellevue and Everett, also dropped in June to 4.8 percent, a level also not seen since August of 2008. Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent.
Statewide, 9,100 jobs were created last month, the highest monthly gain so far this year — which counterbalances last month’s revised low of 1,000, the state Employment Security Department reported Wednesday.
“After a hiring lull in May, Washington employers really picked up the pace in June,” state labor economist Paul Turek said in a news release. “The state’s economy is picking up momentum.”
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The state revised job growth in May downward, to 1,000 from a previously reported gain of 4,000. The preliminary numbers reported each month are subject to change, and Turek attributed May’s decline, in part, to not properly adjusting for the reduction in financial jobs at the close of the accounting season.
So far this year, Washington has added an average of nearly 6,500 jobs a month, Turek said. This compares to 6,125 in 2013; 5,200 in 2012; and 3,000 in 2011.
“One has to go back to 2005 to find a better year for job creation, when employers across the state were adding an average of 7,000 jobs per month,” he said.
The state’s labor force, which includes unemployed job seekers, decreased by 6,400 people in June.
A growing labor force, economists say, is usually an indicator of a stronger post-recession economy. However, Turek said he is not discouraged.
“Right now, 2014 is on pace to be the best year for employment gains since 2005, before the last recession,” he said.
The labor-force decline, he said, “is a one-month occurrence … things don’t always move in a linear fashion.”
In June the education and health-services sector had the largest increase, with 2,600 new jobs, followed by retail, up 2,200 jobs; leisure and hospitality, up 1,900; and wholesale trade, up 1,400.
On the downside, government shrank by 1,400 jobs during the month; construction shed 400 jobs as did transportation, warehousing and utilities.
As usual, Seattle metro area accounts for most of the state’s job growth, with 4,100 of the 9,100 total coming from King and Snohomish counties.
“It is not uncommon to see the greatest economic activity in and around the Seattle area,” Turek said, mentioning employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon. “As things get better, it is always going to be the lightning rod of the state.”
While the unemployment rate has continued to decline and shows every indication that the county and the Puget Sound region is on the right track to rebound from the recession, Marlena Sessions, CEO for the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King Count said she still sees 7,000 to 8,000 new unemployed people come through her 22 King County offices every month.
“It is going in the right direction, absolutely,” she said. “But there are still tens of thousands of people out of work.”