State unemployment increases to 4%

unemployment rate increases to 4

Washington state’s economy lost an estimated 2,600 jobs (seasonally adjusted) and the monthly unemployment rate rose from 3.8% to 4% in November.

“The demand for workers remains elevated. However, some softening of the labor market is evident,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, Employment Security Department’s (ESD) chief labor economist.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 61,826 people in November, an increase of 7,162 paid claims over the previous month. Seasonal increases in paid claims within agriculture, construction, and manufacturing contributed to the overall increase in claims over the month.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 3.9% to 3.7% in November. For comparison, the national unemployment rate (revised) for November 2022 was 3.6%.

Clallam County’s unemployment rate for November was 5.5% — tied for seventh-highest among the state’s 39 counties.

Labor force showed little change

The state’s labor force in November numbered 4,057,865 – an increase of 1,889 people 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.

From November 2022 to November 2023, the state’s labor force increased by 41,412. From October to November 2023, the number of people who were unemployed statewide increased from 153,315 to 161,716.

Four major industry sectors continued to add jobs and eight shed jobs in November. Private sector employment decreased by 3,600 jobs from October to November while government employment increased by 1,000 jobs.

Of the industry sectors, in November, four expanded, eight contracted, and one was unchanged.

The largest sector-level gains were observed in manufacturing (up 1,400). Employment gains were largely attributable to hiring by employers in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry. Government employment increases were concentrated in local government, not including local educational services. Leisure and hospitality employment increased by 900, with the largest observed gains attributable to arts, entertainment and recreation (+1,000).

Employment in professional and business services fell by 2,600, with losses concentrated in administrative and support services (-1,800). Employment in construction decreased by 800 overall. Losses were concentrated among specialty trade contractors (-2,200).

Washington gained an estimated 40,700 jobs from November 2022 to November 2023, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 0.7%, up an estimated 20,600 jobs, while public sector employment rose by 3.5% — up an estimated 20,100 jobs.