Washington state employers add 38,300 jobs in a year

Preliminary jobless rate at lowest level since January 2009

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian Port & Economy Reporter



Employers in Washington state added a net 38,300 jobs in the 12 months through April, with the state’s estimated jobless rate falling to 8.1 percent, the state Employment Security Department said Wednesday.

“From month to month, the numbers bounce around a little,” Dave Wallace, senior economist with the Employment Security Department, said in a news release. “But when we look at data over several months and years, we get a better picture of the economy — and it’s continuing to improve.”

In March, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent. In April 2011, it was 9.3 percent. This April’s preliminary jobless rate of 8.1 percent is the lowest since January 2009, when unemployment was 7.7 percent.

Private sector gains

Overall, eight employment sectors in Washington grew, three receded and two remained flat.

In the private sector, employers added 43,900 jobs between April 2011 and April of this year. Public sector employers, however, cut 5,600 jobs, leaving a net gain of 38,300 jobs year over year.

In fact, government “continues to lead all sectors in annual jobs losses,” according to the Employment Security Department. Meanwhile, job growth was “substantially higher among goods-producing industries (up 3.4 percent) than among service-providing industries (up 1 percent).”

Manufacturing led all sectors in annual job growth, adding an estimated 11,900 jobs. The aerospace industry — primarily Boeing Co. — accounted for 8,000 of those jobs.

Retail trade also posted strong gains, adding 10,000 jobs over the year. The bulk of those jobs came from general merchandise stores (up 3,600 jobs) and “other retail,” a catch-all category (up 4,900 jobs).

Other sectors that saw strong job growth over the year were professional and business services (up an estimated 6,700 jobs) and leisure and hospitality (up an estimated 5,700 jobs).

In April, an estimated 285,800 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. As of May 5, 89,815 workers in the state had run out of all of their jobless insurance benefits.

Clark County’s labor market results for April are slated to be released on May 22.

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