State economy, unemployment see increases

May marked the 34th consecutive month of job growth in Washington, with employers adding 2,100 non-farm jobs, the Employment Security Department announced yesterday.

At the same time, the number of people who are employed decreased for the first time in five months. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose four-tenths of a percentage point to 5.1 percent in May. While the number of filled and available jobs grew, the number of people who were employed dropped by 21,200.

“As the recent visits by Chinese President Hu and Mexican President Fox illustrate, our state is like a small nation – we engage in international trade and our workers are competing for their jobs against workers around the world,” said Governor Chris Gregoire. “The nearly three straight years of job growth show that Washington companies are competitive in the global marketplace. This is good news for our economy and good news for our workers.”

Annual non-farm job growth in the state was 3.4 percent, with 92,900 net new jobs created from May 2005 to May 2006. The construction industry, which led job growth over the year with 19,000 net new jobs, saw a slight decline in May, losing 500 jobs.

Meanwhile, the service industry continued to expand in May, adding 2,200 jobs over the month and 64,500 over the year. Business services and health services led monthly growth in the industry, adding 1,400 and 800 jobs, respectively.

By contrast, air transportation, telecommunications and education services all reported job losses over the past year.

“It’s been another solid month for our state’s economy,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “Even though more people are unemployed, employers are continuing to create new jobs, which should make the job search easier.”

Lee said she encourages the estimated 170,600 unemployed workers in Washington to visit a local WorkSource office and to check online job listings at .