Nonfarm payroll employment reverses course in February, sheds jobs

Washington state’s economy lost 8,700 jobs in February and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for February was 4.5 percent according to the Employment Security Department.

The February unemployment rate was unchanged from the revised January 2019 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. The January figures are preliminary and are subject to revisions.

“After two strong months of payroll growth, February’s employment numbers are disappointing,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department.

“The result was not mirrored in the unemployment rate numbers, however, perhaps making it not as dire as it seems.”

Clallam County’s unemployment rate for February 2019 was 8.8 percent, eighth-highest among Washington stat’es 39 counties.

The Employment Security Department released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.

The department also announced that January’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.5 percent was confirmed. However, January’s preliminary estimated gain of 12,300 jobs was revised downward to 10,400 jobs.

The national unemployment rate declined from 4.0 percent in January to 3.8 percent in February. In February 2018, the national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 73,688 people in February.

State’s labor force adds more people

The state’s labor force in February was 3,849,800 — an increase of 14,000 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 5,400 over the same period.

From February 2018 through February 2019, the state’s labor force grew by 90,900 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 31,200.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Three industry sectors expand

Private sector employment decreased by 7,900 while the public sector lost 800 jobs in February. This month’s report shows private job growth occurred in retail trade up 1,200 jobs, information up 1,100 jobs and financial activities up 1,000 jobs.

The industry sectors posting the decreases were construction which lost 3,400 jobs, other services lost 2,000 jobs, education and health services lost 1,300 jobs, while both professional and business services and leisure and hospitality each lost 1,200 jobs.

Other industry sectors posting job losses wholesale trade losing 500 jobs, manufacturing losing 300 jobs and mining & logging losing 100 jobs.

Year-over-year growth employment dips

Washington added an estimated 64,400 new jobs from February 2018 through February 2019, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.6 percent, up an estimated 70,700 jobs, while public sector employment decreased by 1.1 percent with a net loss of 6,300 jobs.

From February 2018 through February 2019, 10 out of the 13 major industries added jobs, one contracted and two were unchanged.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

• Education and health services, with 16,900 new jobs;

• Manufacturing, with 10,600 new jobs, and

• Leisure and hospitality, with 10,300 new jobs.

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