State unemployment holds steady at 4.8%

Washington state’s economy added an estimated 5,200 jobs (seasonally adjusted) and the monthly unemployment rate remained at 4.8% from March to April 2024.

“Job growth is still trending up, but overall growth has slowed in recent months as net employment – the difference between job gains and job losses – continues to increase in some industries and decrease in others,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, chief regional economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department. “Washington payrolls continue to increase, albeit at a slowing rate.”

Before staying put for the past two months, the unemployment rate had been slowly increasing. In summer 2023, Washington state saw a record low of 3.6%.

The national unemployment rate increased from 3.8% in March to 3.9% in April. For comparison, the national unemployment rate (revised) for April 2023 was 3.4%.

Clallam County’s April 2024 unemployment rate was 5.2%, tied for 12t-highest among the state’s 39 counties. Hefferson County’s was 5.3%.

Labor force showed little change

From March to April 2024, the number of people who were unemployed statewide increased from 193,275 to 194,705.

The state’s labor force in April was 4,016,161 – a decrease of 3,631people 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 a part of the labor force. A drop in the labor force means people have left work and haven’t been actively seeking employment for more than four weeks.

Eight major industry sectors expanded, four contracted and one stayed the same from March to April. Private sector employment increased by 5,900 jobs from March to April. Government employment decreased by 700 jobs. The largest sector-level gains in private industry were in construction (up 3,100 jobs), leisure and hospitality (up 1,500 jobs), and retail trade (up 1,100 jobs).

All industries within the construction sector added jobs, with the largest gains coming in building construction, and heavy and civil engineering. Hiring in arts, entertainment and recreation industries led to the largest one-month gains in leisure and hospitality. Within retail trade, food and beverage stores recorded the largest employment gains.

The deepest losses were in professional and business services (down 2,700 jobs), as well as government and information (each down 700).