Washington boasts record low unemployment

Washington’s unemployment rate hit a record low of 4.6 percent in March, according to the state Employment Security Department. The rate is the lowest since Washington began keeping unemployment records in 1976.

Washington employers added 3,100 nonfarm jobs (seasonally adjusted) last month. At the same time, the unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point from February’s 4.8 percent, which had dropped three-tenths of a percentage point from the month before.

“The Washington economy is one of the fastest growing in the nation and this is a great record to break,” said Governor Chris Gregoire. “As we continue to work hard to make sure Washington is open for business, we must make sure our economic success extends to all families in Washington.”

In March, industry sectors with the largest employment growth were government, with 1,400 new jobs, retail trade, up 600, and professional and business services, with 500 new jobs. Government payrolls posted the largest monthly gain since September 2006. The gains were largest in local government, including educational services.

Several sectors that had posted healthy gains over the past year declined in March.

Manufacturing, information services, and education and health services were three sectors that recorded slight drops in their payrolls, down 100 jobs each.

On a yearly comparison, more than 62,000 net new jobs were created in Washington from March 2006 to March 2007. Nonfarm job growth increased by 2.2 percent, compared to a national rate of 1.5 percent.

“We’re seeing a great trend in the number of people finding jobs,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “We hope those looking for work will take advantage of the resources available to them on our Web site and at our WorkSource offices.”

An estimated 168,700 people (not seasonally adjusted) currently are unemployed and seeking work in Washington, down nearly 22,000 from February. Lee said she encourages job seekers to visit a local WorkSource office and to check online job listings at http://www.go2worksource.com .