Washington's unemployment rate continues to fall

Washington’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.1 percent, Employment Security Commissioner Sylvia P. Mundy announced Tuesday.

The comparable national rate was unchanged in May at 5.6 percent. Washington’s non-adjusted unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 6.1 percent in May.

“May’s unemployment rate drop continued the downward trend that started in the fall of 2003,” Mundy said. “Both the business services and the transportation and warehousing industries showed particular employment strength. Modest improvement in manufacturing also contributed to the brighter employment outlook.”

While department officials said the May figures released Tuesday were preliminary, the over-the-year employment growth recorded in every month since the beginning of the year indicates that the employment situation in Washington continues to improve.

Washington’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment showed a net increase of 26,500 jobs over the month.

Most job gains were associated with normal seasonal activities.

However, manufacturing also posted a gain of 1,900 jobs over the month, while construction gained 5,100 jobs and the leisure and hospitality industries added 6,200 jobs.

Retail trade added 3,500 jobs over the month, while the information sector (up 600) gained jobs in software publishing and telecommunications.

Financial activities were up by 1,000 jobs due to continued strength in real estate and rental leasing.

Professional and business services were up by 2,500 with gains in administrative, support, waste management and employment services.

The only industry in this group that experienced job losses was accounting and bookkeeping services, which is typical during this month as the tax season, comes to an end.

Education and health services were up by 900 jobs with most of the gain in health and social services.

Government employment was also up by 2,200 with most of that gain in local government excluding education services.

Over the year, nonagricultural wage and salary jobs increased by 49,000 while losses in manufacturing dropped to 6,900.

Over-the-year job gains were strongest in professional and business services, construction, and retail trade.


Although the unemployment rate for the Tacoma metropolitan area (Pierce County) dipped by a tick to 6.6 percent, it remains higher than other Puget Sound areas.

The rate is 0.5 point above the statewide level, and 1.3 points above the comparable (not seasonally adjusted) U.S. rate of 5.3 percent.

Service providing industries drove the continuing growth in the local economy, while local manufacturing employment remained stagnant.

While the national economy is showing strong growth, and the state as a whole has an improving employment picture, Tacoma’s labor economy shows the same steady – but not dramatic – growth it has exhibited since January.

Continued expansion of the national and global economies should begin to provide support for local growth in employment later this year.

The need for construction workers will remain strong, even in the face of increasing interest rates, as a result of existing and planned projects.