Washington state’s economy adds back jobs in May

Washington state’s economy added 52,500 jobs in May and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for May decreased from 16.3 percent to 15.1 percent according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

The state saw job losses of 25,400 in March and 457,800 in April before recovering more than 50,000 the following month.

The bulk of jobs recovered in May were construction (+30,000) and leisure/hospitality (+22,600), while the government sector saw a drop of more than 20,000 positions.

“While the unemployment rate in Washington fell in May, it remained historically high as the state continued to navigate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department.

“Over the past month, a small portion of the jobs lost during the first two months of the pandemic were recovered as the economy begins to re-open across the state.”

Released on June 23, Clallam County’s unemployment rate for May 2020 was 16.6 percent — tied for fourth-highest in the state’s 39 counties, behind Grays Harbor (19.3 percent), Pacific (16.9) and Pierce (16.9) counties, and tied with Skagit County. Jefferson County was tied for seventh-highest in the state at 16 percent.

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 April’s previously reported unemployment rate of 15.4 percent was revised upward to 16.3 percent. April’s preliminary estimated loss of 527,000 jobs was revised to a loss of 457,800 jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 14.7 percent in April 2020 to 13.3 percent in May 2020. In May 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.6 percent.

Employment Security paid regular unemployment insurance benefits to 715,542 people in May, an increase of 145,195 over the previous month.

Labor force decreases across state

The state’s labor force in May was 3,943,500 – a decrease of 19,800 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 8,500 over the same period.

From May 2019 through May 2020, the state’s labor force grew by 45,300 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 17,900.

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

From April 2020 to May 2020, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 645,100 to 594,300. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 247,900 to 246,300 over the same period.

Year-over-year growth

Washington state lost an estimated 408,200 jobs from May 2019 through May 2020, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector contracted by 12.5 percent, down an estimated 360,100 jobs, while public sector employment contracted 8.0 percent with a net loss of 48,100 jobs.

From May 2019 through May 2020, 12 major industry sectors contracted while only the information sector added (+1,400) jobs.

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

• leisure/hospitality, down 160,300 jobs

• education/health services, down 55,900 jobs

• government, down 48,100 jobs.

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