The Washington state unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in January while the Seattle-area figure was 3.7 percent, both unchanged from a month prior.
After months of employment gains, the job picture in Seattle and across Washington state has leveled off to remain at its best rate in nine years.
Washington state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 5.1 percent in January, the same as the newly revised rate from the month before, the state Employment Security Department reported Wednesday.
The current figure is still better than the year-ago rate of 5.6 percent, and matches the lowest statewide unemployment number since May 2008.
Looking more closely, the food and restaurant industry lost the most jobs from a month ago, while the health-services sector gained the most.
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The state report, which uses two different surveys, leaves the exact job picture a bit muddled.Based on what employers said, the state reported losing 7,200 jobs in the month, the first drop in at least two years. But a household survey found the number of people employed rose by 8,600 while the number of jobless people dropped slightly.
The employment trend locally is similar to the rest of the state, though the overall economy here is rosier.
The Seattle metro area, which includes King and Snohomish counties, clocked in with a 3.7 percent unemployment rate in January, also unchanged from the month before and the lowest since May 2008.
That’s down from the 4.4 percent figure from a year prior. Like the rest of the state, the recent plateau locally follows a steady drop in Seattle’s jobless rate throughout the latter half of 2016.
The nationwide unemployment rate rose a tick from 4.7 percent in December to 4.8 percent in January, the second straight monthly increase, though that was still a bit better than the 4.9 percent mark a year ago.
Seattle’s economy has been outperforming the rest of the country lately. A year ago, the local unemployment rate was 0.5 percent points better than the nationwide figure — now it’s 1.1 percentage points better.
The steadying statewide comes after the department initially reported five consecutive months of improvement in the jobless rate, although the agency has now slightly changed some figures from previous months to show a more gradual drop over a longer period.