Washington August jobless rate was 5.1%; 16,800 jobs added

August’s rate was the same as July’s rate, and increased even as COVID-19 cases surge.

Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington’s unemployment rate remained at 5.1% and the state added 16,800 jobs last month, officials announced Wednesday.

The Employment Security Department said that August’s rate was the same as July’s rate, and the job gains came even as health concerns remain amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But the uncertainty around the Delta variant is likely to result in an uneven labor market recovery,” Paul Turek, economist for the department, said in a written statement.

Private sector employment increased by 13,000 jobs and government employment increased by 3,800 jobs. Leisure and hospitality, professional and business services and education and health services saw the largest gains, and manufacturing and government were the two sectors that that saw a downswing.

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’s unemployed and actively looking for work. People who quit looking for work are not counted. The job gains and losses estimates are based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of businesses.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 5.4% in July to 5.2% in August.

The latest numbers released Wednesday also include a broader unemployment measure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That rate — called a U-6 rate — measures “unemployed, underemployed and those who are not looking but who want a job.” The U-6 rate for the third quarter of 2020 through the second quarter of 2021 was 13.5% in Washington state and was 11.9 percent nationally during that same time period.

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