WA’s payroll employment, jobless rates both increased in October, ESD says



(The Center Square) – Payroll employment in Washington increased in October. So did the state’s unemployment rate.

An estimated 7,900 jobs were gained last month, picking up from late summer and early fall, the state Employment Security Department announced in a report issued Wednesday.

“Jobs grew at a faster pace than what was observed over the previous three months,” said ESD Chief Labor Economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman. “The demand for workers remains elevated, and the trend toward more modest job growth continued.”

The department also revised September job gains downward to 4,900 from an initial estimate of 7,900 jobs. Still, the agency is projecting an upward trend for October, with private sector employment showing a gain of 4,800 jobs and government employment increasing by 3,100 jobs.

Of the 13 industry sectors monitored by the agency, seven expanded, four contracted, and two were unchanged last month.

Among the notable increases and decreases:

With students returning for fall classes, employment in private education grew by 1,700 jobs while 2,000 jobs were added in health services and social assistance.

Public employment increases were concentrated in local government.

Retail trade employment increased by 2,500, with the largest gains attributed to “other retail” (1,000) and food-and-beverage stores (800).

Overall employment in the information sector fell by 1,600 jobs, with losses observed in publishing industries. However, within that sector, job increases were noted in internet services (2,400) and software publishing (1,800).

Employment in financial activities decreased by 1,800 overall, with most losses concentrated in “finance and insurance” which decreased by 2,000 jobs.

If payroll employment was up in October, so was Washington’s unemployment rate, which increased from a confirmed rate of 3.6% in September to an estimated rate of 3.8% last month. That’s still lower than a national rate of 3.9%, according to ESD.

The state’s labor force in October numbered 4.056 million people, down an estimated 4,950 from September. Most of the decrease – 3,882 people – was seen in the Puget Sound areas of Seattle, Bellevue, and Everett. Labor force is defined as the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16 in Washington.

Individuals who are laid off from work but still seeking jobs remain in the labor force. A drop involves people who left work and have not actively sought employment for over a month.

King County has the state’s largest labor force at over 1.35 million individuals and an unemployment rate of 3.6% in September. Washington counties with the lowest jobless rates that month were San Juan (2.6%), Adams and Asotin (both at 2.8%), Chelan and Walla Walla (both 3.1%), and Columbia and Whitman (both 3.2%).

Counties with the highest unemployment rates in September were Ferry (6%), Wahkiakum (5.3%), Pacific (4.9%), Grays Harbor (4.8%), and Mason (4.6%).

Statewide over the past year, since October 2022, the three industry sectors experiencing the largest employment gains were government (up 22,900 jobs), education and health services (up 19,000), and leisure/hospitality (up 11,600).

Sectors with the biggest job losses were information (down 5,000 jobs) and construction (down 4,100 jobs).

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