Employers in state added 58,500 jobs in 12 months

Payrolls in Washington state rise, though jobless rate stays the same

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian Port & Economy Reporter



Employers in Washington added a net 58,500 jobs in the 12 months through June, the state Employment Security Department said Wednesday. The unemployment rate, however, did not budge, staying at an estimated 8.3 percent.

The year-over-year growth in payrolls included an increase of 10,200 jobs from May to June. “We’re gradually building momentum on the job front,” said Mark Berreth, a labor economist with the state Employment Security Department. “We’ve now regained more than half the number of jobs we lost during the recession.”

Although the state’s economy has rebounded, some analysts warn the U.S. may be headed for a recession in 2013.

John Mitchell, principal of Portland-based M&H Economic Consultants, said in Vancouver last month that the scheduled year-end expiration of payroll and other tax cuts — coupled with scheduled cuts in spending on federal programs — will upend the recovery if Congress fails to act.

“Do we have an environment that encourages growth?” Mitchell asked.

In Washington, the 8.3 percent jobless rate in June mirrored May’s jobless rate. In April, unemployment in the state was 8.2 percent. In March, it was 8.3 percent. The June 2011 rate was 9.3 percent. In Oregon, unemployment in June was 8.5 percent.

Government losses

From its employment peak in February 2008 to the low point in February 2010, Washington state lost about 205,000 jobs. With June’s job gains, Washington has regained an estimated 111,400 jobs since February 2010, including a gain of about 123,600 private-sector jobs offset by the loss of roughly 12,200 public-sector jobs.

Overall, the year-over-year numbers show that 10 job sectors grew while three sectors receded. In the private sector, employers added 64,800 jobs. Public sector employers, however, cut 6,300 jobs, leaving a net gain of 58,500 jobs year over year.

“Government continues to lead all sectors in annual job losses,” according to the state Employment Security Department.

Local government shed 2,300 jobs, state government hemorrhaged 2,200 jobs and federal government employers lost 1,800 jobs.

In the private sector, industries adding jobs included professional and business services (up 17,300 jobs over the year), manufacturing (up 13,700 jobs), and retail trade (up 10,800 jobs).

In June, an estimated 293,200 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 144,855 who claimed unemployment benefits last month. Also in June, 4,584 unemployed workers ran out of jobless benefits, bringing the total to 101,028 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.

Clark County’s labor market results for June are slated to be released July 24.

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