OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state saw job growth last month, but the unemployment rate still increased slightly, which state officials said Wednesday was a sign of more unemployed people re-entering the job market.
The unemployment rate for May increased to 8.3 percent from April’s revised rate of 8.2 percent, even with a net growth of 11,700 jobs in May.
“In this case, the higher unemployment rate could be a sign that people are feeling more optimistic about their chances of finding a job,” Employment Security economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman said in a statement.
The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the estimated number of unemployed who have sought work within the past four weeks by the state’s total civilian labor force.
Nearly half of the net job growth in May was in the professional and business services sector, with much of it in the employment-services industry.
“Businesses often turn to temp agencies when they’re ready to start hiring again, so we’re excited when we see job growth in that area,” Vance-Sherman said.
In addition to professional and business services, sectors that saw the most job growth in May included: transportation, warehousing and utilities; wholesale trade; manufacturing; and construction.
Government employment lost an estimated 2,600 jobs in May, with federal employment in the state dropping by 1,100 jobs. State agencies lost an estimated 700 jobs, and local government and K-12 schools lost 300 jobs each. Public higher education lost 200 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality lost 200 jobs, and the information sector lost an estimated 100 jobs.
An estimated 292,600 people are unemployed and seeking work in the state. More than 156,000 people received unemployment benefits last month.
As of June 2, more than 96,000 workers in the state had exhausted all of their unemployment benefits.