OLYMPIA – Washington state’s unemployment rate was relatively constant over the past two months, but the state saw an estimated loss of 9,500 jobs over the same period, according to numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department.
The state’s unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in September, a slight decrease from August’s 7 percent. In October, it crept back up to 7 percent. The agency was releasing data for both months because the September numbers were delayed due to the federal government shutdown last month. Jobs fell an estimated 1,400 in September, and 8,100 in October.
Two different surveys are used to calculate unemployment figures and job losses and gains. The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and actively looking for work. People who have stopped looking for work are not counted. The job gains and losses estimates are based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of businesses.
Paul Turek, a labor economist with Employment Security, said that while the federal furloughs did not affect October job numbers, it could have affected the overall unemployment rate for that month.
Turek said that while Washington did gain some jobs in both months, the overall drop is due in part to seasonal adjustments compared to normal patterns this time of year, as well as the result of the overall economy.
“We enjoyed a very long growth streak, but we should expect there will be ups and downs over time as the recovery gradually strengthens,” Turek said in a written statement.
Industries that saw the biggest losses were education and health services, construction, leisure and hospitality and manufacturing. Sectors that saw gains were wholesale trade, retail trade, other services, and government.
Since October 2012, when the state’s unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, the state has gained more than 48,000 jobs.