Washington unemployment rate holds steady at 4.5 percent for third consecutive month; rural counties lag in recovery.

Statewide unemployment remains at 4.5 percent. The Employment Security Department reports

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate clocked in at 4.5 percent for the third consecutive month in July, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“The good economic news continues in Washington,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Unemployment is at a record low and Washington businesses continue to add jobs. Plus, newly released data shows early-year hiring was much stronger than originally thought.”

Washington employers added 1,600 nonfarm jobs in July.

ESD points out that just one year ago the unemployment rate in the state was 5.5 percent. The state unemployment rate is slightly higher than the national unemployment rate and much of the good news is concentrated in the metro Seattle region.

The national unemployment rate was 4.3 percent this July and 3.5 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.

As the June county unemployment map makes clear, rural Washington continues to struggle. Seven rural counties post unemployment rates of 6.1 percent or higher; eight counties, seven rural and urban Pierce County, have unemployment rates of 5.1 percent to 6.0 percent. The state’s rural economy is the focus of an October Rural Jobs Summit convened by the Association of Washington Business. See this video for information.

There’s more detail in the ESD press release, including this:

Washington has added an estimated 85,200 new jobs from July 2016 through July 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.5 percent or 67,900 jobs, and the public sector increased by 3.1 percent, adding 17,300 jobs.

From July 2016 through July 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-5,900) and logging (-200) were the only sectors to report job losses.

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

  • Government with 17,300 new jobs;
  • Construction with 12,400 new jobs; and
  • Education and health services with 11,500 new jobs.

The Associated Press has more on the latest report.