State's jobless rate dipped below 8 percent in November

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

Published:

Updated: December 20, 2012, 9:51 AM

 

Washington’s estimated unemployment rate has dropped below 8 percent for the first time since January 2009, the state Employment Security Department reported Wednesday, reaching a seasonally adjusted 7.8 percent in November.

The decline from 8.2 percent in October was the largest one-month decline since November 1977.

At the same time, nonfarm payrolls experienced an estimated net gain of 1,600 jobs in November, seasonally adjusted. “Job growth appeared to slow in November, but the trend of the last three months is very positive,” Joe Elling, chief labor economist for the Employment Security Department, said in a news release.

The private sector added 2,400 jobs in November. But a loss of 800 jobs in the public sector offset those gains, leaving the state’s economy with a net gain of 1,600 jobs, over the month.

In the 12 months through November, private-sector payrolls in the state fattened by 46,500 jobs. But, again, a public-sector loss of 300 jobs blunted those increases, leaving the state’s economy with a net gain of 46,200 jobs, year over year.

The state’s preliminary November jobless rate of 7.8 percent compares with 8.7 percent unemployment in November 2011.

In Oregon, officials said that state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate for November was 8.4 percent — essentially unchanged from 8.6 percent in October. Unemployment in Oregon has been between 8.4 percent and 8.9 percent since January.

Nationally, estimated unemployment was a seasonally adjusted 7.7 percent in November. It was 8.7 percent in November 2011.

Clark County labor market data for November is slated to be released on Dec. 26.

Retail adds 2,500 jobs

In Washington state’s private sector, retail trade saw the largest employment increase in November, adding 2,500 jobs. The online retail industry drove the lion’s share of that job growth, according to the Employment Security Department’s analysis.

Other parts of the state’s private sector that saw gains last month included construction, up 1,400; leisure and hospitality, up 1,200; transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 800; education and health services, up 600; other services, up 600; and manufacturing, up 400.

Private-sector job losses in November included professional and business services, down 2,900; financial activities, down 1,300; and wholesale trade, down 1,000 jobs.

In the public sector, state agencies lost an estimated 900 jobs, higher education declined by 1,000 jobs, K-12 schools added 600, local government added 400, and federal employment grew by an estimated 100 jobs.

Across all sectors, Washington’s seasonally adjusted employment has grown by about 122,000 jobs, out of a recession loss of about 205,000 jobs.

In November, an estimated 270,000 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 135,985 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.

Also in November, 5,326 unemployed workers used up all of their jobless insurance benefits, bringing the total to 121,273 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.


Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ; http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com