Washington State Employment Security Department Report: December

Employment Security Commissioner Sylvia P. Mundy announced last week that Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point, from a revised 6.9 percent in November, to 6.8 percent in December. The nation’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.7 percent. Washington’s non-adjusted unemployment rate also fell by one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.8 percent.

“The unemployment rate continued to trend down from its recent peak of 7.8 percent in June,” said Mundy. “Still there has been little improvement in the labor market over the fourth quarter. The unemployment rate has not declined significantly and non-farm payroll employment is near year ago levels.”
Mundy went on to note that, “The nation was also disappointed by slow job growth in December with an increase of just 1,000 jobs following gains totaling almost 150,000 in October and November.”

Washington’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment decreased by 9,300 jobs over the month. Seasonal layoffs dominated the declines with construction dropping 3,900 jobs, manufacturing down 2,900 jobs of which 2,100 were in food processing, education and health services down 400 jobs led by a 500 job drop in educational services, and leisure and hospitality shed 600 jobs with both accommodation and food and drinking establishments losing workers. Government also declined with 4,800 fewer jobs over the month. These job losses occurred at the state and local level with the federal government adding 1,900 jobs. Professional and business services also lost jobs over the month, down 1,200. Within this sector the employment service industry, which includes temporary help firms, lost 1,300 jobs. The job declines here are another sign that the recovery in the job market has not yet gained legs. Retail trade was one of the few sectors up significantly over the month (+3,800) in normal hiring for the holiday season. The information sector also saw an over the month increase with software publishing up 600 over the month.

Over-the-year jobs were up by 3,100 for a scant increase of less than one percent. Job losses in the manufacturing sector, 14,900 jobs over the year, are just outweighed by gains in private services and construction. Service sector industries gaining jobs include financial activities (+6,000), professional and business services (+2,500), and educational and health services (+4,500). Other sectors showed little change. Government was down by 100 jobs over the year with losses at the federal and state level outweighing modest gains at the local level.

Employment Security encourages the 213,993 unemployed workers in Washington to visit a WorkSource center and take advantage of WorkSource’s online job listings and other services at www.go2worksource.com.

The Tacoma metropolitan area (Pierce County) unemployment rate has again improved relative to the statewide rate of 6.8 percent.

Tacoma’s rate of 6.9 percent is only a tenth of point about the statewide rate, but continues well above (1.4 points) the comparable – not seasonally adjusted – rate for the United States.

Place of work employment was very stable over the month, and remained up over the year. Construction and services providing sectors were the positive factors, as manufacturing remained off compared to this time last year.