Washington’s statewide unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in January as continued job growth in industries such as construction and business services kept pace with the state’s increasing working population.
The unemployment rate — a ratio of the estimated unemployed population divided by the resident civilian labor force, adjusted for seasonal changes — has held steady at this low level since September, according to preliminary state and federal estimates released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department. The statewide rate is down slightly from 4.9 percent in January 2017.
Washington’s civilian labor force increased by nearly 82,400 in the last year to nearly 3.76 million people in January. More than half of that growth occurred in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett region. Statewide employment increased during the same period by more than 82,360.
Bellwether industries such as construction and professional and business services — a catchall category including architecture, engineering, legal, administrative support, and blue-collar services such as janitorial that companies often contract for — continued to lead the state’s economy.
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Professional and business services added 15,700 year over year, not seasonally adjusted. Construction was up 14,100, and education and health services also grew by 14,100 jobs — despite seeing a 1,100-job contraction in January.
The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett region saw a slight uptick in its preliminary unemployment rate to 3.9 percent, compared to 3.7 percent in January 2017.