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Washington state’s economy sees job losses in July while unemployment also dips

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(The Center Square) – Washington state’s economy lost an estimated 6,400 jobs in July, while also seeing a dip in its unemployment rate.

The seemingly contradictory numbers were outlined in a jobs report issued last week by the state’s Employment Security Department.

ESD state economist Paul Turek said in a press release that July’s payroll numbers were weaker compared to strong gains recorded in June. When coupled with downward revisions to preliminary job totals from the first quarter of this year, last month’s numbers indicated “the state’s labor market is gradually cooling off,” said Turek.

Even so, Washington’s unemployment rate continued to drop, showing that the labor market “remains historically tight,” he said.

In June, the state gained 13,100 jobs and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was revised from 3.7% to 3.6%. That’s slightly higher than the national unemployment rate which dipped last month from 3.6% to 3.5%.

However, unemployment figures vary among Washington’s 39 counties with jobless rates tending to be higher in rural areas. In June, Ferry County had the highest jobless rate at 5.7%, followed at 4.3% in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties, 4.2% in Grays Harbor County, and 4.1% in Franklin and Pend Oreille counties.

Employment Security paid unemployment benefits to 55,172 recipients in July, a decrease of 895 paid claims compared to June. In particular, fewer claims for benefits came out of the construction and manufacturing sectors, the agency said.

Overall in July, Washington saw four industry sectors expand, eight contract, and one remain unchanged, according to Employment Security. The agency cited these key increases and decreases:

Jobs in education and health services increased by 2,900.Government employment decreased by 5,000 overall, with 2,700 jobs lost in the state government educational services sector. Seasonal decreases within that sector typically push down overall government employment during the month of July.Professional and business services employment decreased by 1,400 overall.Manufacturing employment fell by 1,200, led by 1,100 jobs lost in food manufacturing.Construction employment decreased by 2,500 overall, with 1,600 jobs lost by specialty trade contractors.Employment in “other services” increased by 1,600 overall, with 1,600 jobs added in personal and laundry services. In other industry sectors, financial activities picked up 700 jobs last month; wholesale trade gained 200 jobs; and mining and logging remained unchanged. Sectors which saw job losses included leisure and hospitality (minus 100), transportation/warehousing/utilities (minus 300), information (minus 500), and retail trade (minus 800).

The state’s labor force in July numbered 4,069,400, an increase of 1,500 people from the previous month. Labor force is defined as the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16. Layoffs and labor force participation are not necessarily connected. When people are laid off but still seeking work, they remain part of the labor force. Jobless individuals who have not actively sought employment for more than four weeks are no longer considered part of the labor force total.

Between June and July, the number of people unemployed statewide decreased from 154,400 to 147,600, according to Employment Security. However, in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of unemployed increased from 54,800 to 56,000 during that time.

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