State unemployment rate lowest in 6 years

OLYMPIA — Washington state officials said Wednesday that the state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent last month, the lowest it has been in six years.

Numbers released Wednesday by the state’s Employment Security Department show that June’s jobless rate was down from May’s rate of 6.1 percent. The state also added an estimated 9,100 jobs in May.

“The state’s economy is picking up momentum and the near term job outlook is good,” said Paul Turek, an economist with the department.

Washington’s unemployment rate sits below the national rate of 6.1 percent for June. The unemployment rate in the Everett-Seattle-Bellevue area dropped to 4.8 percent from May’s rate of 5 percent.

The largest job increases were seen in education and health services, which saw a surge of 2,600 jobs last month; retail trade, which was up 2,200 jobs and leisure and hospitality, which increased by 1,900 jobs. Other sectors that saw increases include wholesale trade, professional and business services, and information.

“Employment gains were broad and spread through all major industry sectors,” Turek wrote.

The biggest decrease was seen in government, which saw a drop of 1,400 jobs, while construction and manufacturing each lost about 400 jobs.

Nearly 85,000 jobs have been added in the state over a one-year period ending in June, officials said.

Two different surveys are used to calculate unemployment figures and job losses and gains. The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively looking for work. People who have stopped looking for work aren’t counted. The job gains and losses estimates are based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of businesses.

An estimated 201,000 people were looking for work in the state, including more than 70,000 who claimed unemployment benefits in June.


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