Unemployment is Down, But so is Employment. What's Up?



Here's a statement from the state's Employment Security department that tries to explain the confliction news.

OLYMPIA – December’s labor statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics once again produced conflicting data about what’s happening in Washington’s economy.

According to the bureau’s monthly survey of Washington households, the estimated unemployment rate dropped from 8.7 percent in November to 8.5 percent in December. This was the lowest since February 2009, when the unemployment rate was 8.3 percent.  

At the same time, a survey of Washington businesses showed an estimated job loss of 10,700 from November to December.

“There is a lot of volatility in the numbers we get from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and one month of numbers isn’t enough to gauge what’s happening in the job market,” said Greg Weeks, who heads the labor-market information office at the state Employment Security Department. “If you look at the trend over time, jobs are gradually increasing and the unemployment rate is coming down.”

Industry sectors that had the most job growth in December were education and health services, up an estimated 2,200 jobs; manufacturing, up 2,100, including 1,100 in aerospace; and the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector, up 500 jobs.

Industries with the most job losses included professional and business services, down an estimated 4,300 jobs; retail trade, down 3,500, leisure and hospitality, down 3,200; construction, down 1,900; government, down 1,200; and financial activities, down 800.

Within the government sector, state agencies cut an estimated 800 jobs, higher education lost 1,300 jobs, local government added 1,000 jobs, and federal employment was unchanged.

From December 2010 to December 2011, employment in Washington increased by an estimated 29,600 jobs. 

An estimated 297,430 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in December.  As of Jan. 17, 71,141 workers in Washington had run out of all unemployment benefits. 

Employment Security is a partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which offers a variety of employment and training services for job seekers, including free help with interviewing skills, résumés and job referrals. WorkSource also can help employers recruit and screen for qualified workers, apply for employment tax breaks and qualify for subsidized employee training.