Washington State Employment Security Statistics

The state's unemployment rate falls slightly in March.

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell two-tenths of one percentage point to 6,8 percent in March, Employment Security Commissioner Sylvia P. Mundy announced last week.

The seasonally adjusted national rate rose two-tenths of one percentage point over the month to 5.7 percent.

Not adjusted for normal seasonal factors, Washington’s unemployment rate fell seven-tenths of one percentage point to 7.3 percent.

“While the seasonal rate went down in Washington, our relatively weak job market suggests it more the result of a temporarily shrinking labor force than an improvement in the labor market situation,” Mundy said.

She continued: “Some unemployed workers may have retreaded to the sidelines to wait for the economy to recover, rather than actively seek work. In other words, they were neither counted in the labor force nor as unemployed. It is also possible that we are seeing some workers moving from the state to find employment.”

The state’s economy added about 9,800 jobs during the month, a somewhat slower pace than in years past.

The February-to-March job gain, at 0.4 percent, is about half of what would be expected based on data from the past five (pre-recession) years.

Of the 9,800 overall job gain, services accounted for 6,000 or nearly two-thirds.

Wholesale and retail trade was up 4,000 with the retail side making up nearly three-fourths of that gain.

Construction was up 800. Finance, insurance and real estate was up 200, all in real estate.

Manufacturing shed 1,400 jobs with a 1,900 loss in durable goods partially offset by seasonal gains in nondurable goods.

The loss column included 1,400 in aircraft and parts and 400 in fabricated metals.

Gains of 100 to 400 were seen in food processing, printing and publishing, shipbuilding, stone, clay, and glass, and petroleum, coal, and plastics.

Transportation, communications and utilities was down 100, due to losses on the transport side.

State government was up 300, all in education, while local government was down 200. Federal government was up 200.

Washington’s nonfarm employment adjusted in collaboration with the Office of the Forecast Council fell by 63,700 jobs or 2.3 percent from March 2001 to March 2002.

Manufacturing shed 31,500 jobs over the year.

Transportation equipment accounted for 9.600 of those lost jobs, most in aircraft and parts (-8,600).

Sizable losses were also registered in electronics (-4,800), food processing (-3,400), industrial machinery and computer equipment (-3,400) and primary metals (-2,400). Construction shed 16,300 jobs.

The trade sector was down 13,900 jobs, with 6,200 of that loss on the wholesale side.

Services shed 16,000 workers. Business services, in particular, lost 18,900 jobs including 8,700 in computer and data processing.

On the plus side, health services (+6,400), social services (+2,100), education services (+1,300) and engineering and management (+700) added jobs.

Transportation, communications and utilities was down 9,200.

Finance, insurance and real estate was up 5,000 with three-fourths of the gains in finance.

Government was up 11,300 jobs with state and local education accounting for more than half of that increase.

New and expanding tribal businesses, classified as local government, accounted for a notable share of the non-education related gains.

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