The Seattle area, meanwhile, continued to see its ranks of unemployed dwindle as the unemployment rate tightened to 3.8 percent.
After flatlining all year, Washington state’s unemployment rate has dropped significantly and has hit its lowest point in more than eight years, according to new figures released Wednesday.
The Seattle area, meanwhile, saw its jobless rate drop for the fifth straight month. It also has fallen to its lowest rate since 2008.
The monthly data from the Washington Employment Security Department showed the statewide unemployment rate hit 5.4 percent in October, down from 5.6 percent a month prior. It was the biggest one-month drop in four years.
The improvement in unemployment comes after the rate had hovered between 5.6 and 5.8 percent since the start of 2015. Earlier this year, the rate didn’t budge at all for seven straight months.
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It’s the first time since June 2008 that Washington’s unemployment rate has dipped below 5.5 percent.
The state added 10,600 jobs this month, but the number of unemployed people statewide only dropped by 3,900. That could be because most of the new jobs went to people outside the previously tallied state labor force — largely either people who earlier had stopped looking for a job or newcomers from out of state.
State labor economist Paul Turek said the recent increases in pay locally have lured some people “off the sidelines” and into the labor force with more attractive job offers.
The figures only run through the end of October, before the election, so how could Donald Trump’s victory affect the economy?
“I think the answer right now is: Nobody knows,” Turek said, citing the fact that political rhetoric — not detailed policies — dominated the campaign.
Still, he downplayed the role a president typically plays in creating private-sector jobs.
“Regardless of who might be elected, usually it’s fair to say that the economy continues on whatever course it’s been on,” Turek said.
Most of the new jobs added in Washington this month were in leisure and hospitality, while construction, retail and business services also did well.
On the other end, the state saw overall fewer people employed in government and manufacturing than a month ago.
When factoring in those in Washington who are underemployed or who want a job but have dropped out of the workforce, the adjusted unemployment rate in the state is 10.7 percent, worse than the national rate of 9.8 percent.
That quarterly figure hasn’t changed in the last several months but is down from recent years.
In the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area, the jobs picture is even brighter.
The local jobless rate hit 3.8 percent in October, a big drop from 4.7 percent a year ago and down from last month’s 3.9 percent. June 2008 marked the last time the Seattle-area unemployment rate was this low.
Seattle’s peak unemployment rate seen during the recession was 9.7 percent, most recently at the start of 2010. Turek said there is still room for the local unemployment rate to drop a little further, toward the low of 3.1 percent reached in 2007.
Nationally, the jobless rate was 4.9 percent in October, down from 5 percent both a month prior and a year ago.
“It’s probably a consensus view that the course we’re on now will continue to carry over into the rest of 2017 for now,” Turek said.