New labor data from September highlights how out of whack Washington state’s job market has become after 19 months of pandemic.

In industries such as health care and tech, demand for workers continues to outstrip supply. In others, such as manufacturing and food service, the number of available workers still dwarfs the number of job openings.

These imbalances show up starkly in data on online jobs postings, which the Employment Security Department (ESD) gathers each month to monitor job demand.

Not surprisingly, the employer in Washington with the most job listings posted online June through September was Amazon, with 31,740, or nearly nine times as many as second-place Microsoft. Amazon was also the biggest June-through-September jobs poster in 2020, and the second biggest in 2019.

Amazon’s high ranking illustrates the surge in demand during the pandemic for online shopping (many of Amazon’s postings are for warehouse jobs, which the company is adding at a dizzying pace). But it also gets at the way the broader demand for workers in tech, the ultimate work-from-home industry, never really paused during the pandemic, even as other industries, such as manufacturing and restaurants, went down. 

Boeing, for example, had just 1,457 June-through-September online job postings, which may reflect the aerospace giant’s struggles since the collapse of global travel and the backlash from two MAX 737 crashes. Boeing’s recent postings were enough for a No. 8 ranking on ESD’s September list. But it was still fewer than the 1,729 job openings Boeing posted June through September in 2019. (A year before that, with jet production ramping up, Boeing advertised 3,349 jobs in the same period.)


Another finding from the pandemic job market: Health care remains largely recession-proof. From June through September in 2019 and 2020, six of the top 15 job posters in Washington were health care organizations; in 2021, health care accounted for four of the top 15; five if you count the state health department.

Speaking of government jobs: Back in 2019, the state itself was the third-largest June-through-September job poster, with 8,592 listings, behind only Providence Health & Services and Amazon. But in 2020, the state didn’t even crack the top 25 job posters, and in 2021, it made the list, at No. 9, only because of jobs posted by the state health department.

Those job market disparities are more clearly spelled out in ESD’s supply-demand report for September. 

The report compares the number of new and ongoing job postings in each industry against the number of that industry’s unemployment claims, which serves as a rough index of the local labor supply.


According to September data, demand for health care practitioners and technicians outweighed supply nearly 6 to 1. For computer- and mathematical-related jobs, demand beat supply nearly 4 to 1. Demand was also ahead of supply for sales-related jobs and for workers in community and social service.  


By contrast, worker supply was well ahead of demand for a range of industries.

Open jobs for metal workers and plastic workers, a category covering aerospace machinists, were dwarfed nearly 4 to 1 by the supply of available workers. Open cooking and serving jobs were outnumbered by available workers by around 2 to 1. In construction, open jobs were exceeded by available workers by nearly 6 to 1.

Coverage of the pandemic’s economic impacts is partially underwritten by Microsoft Philanthropies. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over this and all its coverage.