Overall, the local unemployment rate has been cut by more than half since peaking at 9.7 percent in summer 2009.
For the first time in more than eight years, the Seattle-area unemployment rate has squeaked below 4 percent, a milestone in the region’s continued economic resurgence, according to new figures released Wednesday.
September’s 3.9 percent unemployment rate for the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area is down from 4.1 percent a month prior, and 4.6 percent a year ago.
It marks the first time since June 2008, when the region’s economy had just begun spiraling downward, that the jobless rate was below 4 percent, according to the state Employment Security Department.
Overall, the local unemployment rate has been cut by more than half since peaking at 9.7 percent during the recession.
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But the current figure still lags behind the low point of 3.1 percent at the start of 2008, and the rates seen in 1990 and 2000.
“At least on that basis, it seems like there’s some room for it to fall,” said state labor economist Paul Turek.
It’s the second wave of good news recently for local workers. Last month, the Census Bureau reported that Seattle saw the fastest-growing incomes of any city in the country in 2015, with the median household income topping $80,000.
Statewide, the picture is getting a little better, as well but isn’t as rosy: The Washington unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in September, the second straight month of slight improvement after the rate previously hadn’t budged all year.
Turek characterized September as a solid bounce-back month for the state. Much of that is due to the Seattle area; no other metro area in the state has a jobless rate below 6 percent.
“Seattle is once again the hot spot for the state,” Turek said, led by an increasing number of tech jobs — especially at Amazon, which has four times more job openings than any other local employer.
Washington’s rate was 5.7 percent both last month and a year ago. The current jobless rate is the same as it was last spring and summer, and is tied for the lowest since summer 2008.
The state added 20,000 jobs in September compared to the month before, the most since the spring of 2000. Still, most of those people getting work were new to the workforce.
The number of unemployed adults dropped by only 4,800 compared to a month ago, and there are actually more people out of work now than a year prior.
When factoring in people working part time or those who want a job but aren’t looking, the adjusted unemployment rate statewide is 10.7 percent. That number has fallen a full percentage point since last year but lags behind the nationwide rate, which just dipped below 10 percent.
Compared to last year, most industries statewide saw a bump in employment, led by education and health services and construction. On the flip side, fewer people are now working in manufacturing.
The national trend is a little different: The 5 percent U.S. unemployment rate is up slightly from a month ago and has been increasing a bit since late spring. But it’s down a tick, overall, since a year ago.