State unemployment rate drops to 4.7 percent in March

Ken Cochran Alex Swenson Survey Team

Washington state’s unemployment rate is at its lowest since August 2007, after falling from 4.9 to 4.7 percent in March, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

The seasonally-adjusted rate is .9 percent lower than it was this time last year.

“Washington has one of the better growing economies in the nation,” said Paul Turek, ESD economist, in a press release. “Strong job growth has pushed the unemployment rate down further as more workers find jobs.”

Employers across the state added 10,700 nonfarm jobs in March, according to preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That puts the Washington’s labor force at 3.68 million – 1,500 more people than the previous month. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Employment by sector

According to the March job report, private sector employment in the state increased by 11,400 and government employment decreased by 700 jobs.

The greatest job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality (+2,700 jobs), education and health services (+2,500 jobs) and professional and businesses services (+2,300 jobs). Retail trade and transportation, warehousing and utilities added 1,400 jobs each; construction increased 900; financial services added 700; other services and information gained 500 each; and mining and logging rose 100.

Wholesale trade faced the biggest reduction last month (-1,400 jobs), while manufacturing shed 200.

Year-over-year, 12 of the state’s 13 industry sectors saw job increases. Manufacturing (-5,800 jobs) was the only sector to report job losses.

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

  • Education and health services (+16,900 jobs);
  • Retail trade (+15,900 jobs); and
  • Leisure and hospitality (+13,000 jobs).