Unemployment remains unchanged in May, holding steady at 5.8 percent for the state and 4.9 percent for the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area.

Share story

The unemployment rates for Washington state and the Seattle metro area both held steady in May, statistics released by the state Wednesday show.

The state had a 5.8 percent unemployment rate in May, the same as the previous five months and 0.2 percent higher than its rate in May of last year, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Employment Security Department.

The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area’s unemployment rate was also unchanged in May at 4.9 percent, matching April’s revised level and falling slightly behind the nationwide rate of 4.7 percent.

State labor economist Paul Turek said the consistent unemployment rate reflects a balance between new jobs being filled and people entering the workforce to look for jobs.

Most Read Business Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Nonfarm employment in the state rose by 8,700 from April to May, with the private sector gaining an estimated 7,100 jobs and the public sector gaining about 1,600.

The leading sectors in adding jobs were professional and business services, and education and health services, while leisure and hospitality — April’s big gainer— decreased by 1,400 jobs. Additionally transportation, warehousing and utilities decreased by 800 jobs.

Preliminary estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses and are subject to revision. For instance, April’s preliminary estimated statewide gain of 11,200 jobs was revised to 6,900 added jobs.

In March nonfarm employment increased by 7,800 jobs, then in April increased by 6,900 jobs, 900 jobs fewer. The preliminary results for May show an increase by 8,700 jobs.

Although wage growth hasn’t taken off, it is getting a bit harder for businesses to find workers to fill their needs, Turek said.

“The labor market is tightening,” he said.