Unemployment hits new low in December, lowest rate since May 2008

Washington’s unemployment rate dropped for the fifth month in a row to hit a new low of 5.2 percent in December, according to state Employment Security Department.

“Washington’s economy finished strong in 2016 and the short-term job outlook remains positive,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department.

The pace of hiring also increased in December as Washington employers added 6,700 new jobs, up from 4,000 jobs in November.

The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its December Monthly Employment Report.

The national unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percentage to 4.7 percent in December. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area held steady at 3.7 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 70,238 people in December.

Labor force increases in Washington

The state’s labor force remained virtually unchanged at 3.69 million in December, an 800 decrease from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 1,000 to 1.65 million during the same period.

From December 2015 to December 2016, the state’s labor force grew by 121,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 61,600.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over age 16.

Eight sectors expand, four contract

Private-sector employment increased by 7,400 jobs and government employment decreased by 700 in December.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality with 3,400 new jobs created. In addition, information increased 2,500; retail trade expanded 2,200, wholesale trade was up 800, and financial activities added 300. Additionally, education and health services; transportation, warehousing and utilities; and manufacturing each added 200 jobs.

Other services faced the biggest reduction in December, losing 1,300 jobs. Government and professional and business services cut 700 jobs each, and construction fell by 400. Mining and logging employment was unchanged.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 82,300 new jobs from December 2015 to December 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.6 percent or 68,300 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.5 percent, adding 14,000 jobs.

From December 2015 to December 2016, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-5,900) and mining and logging (-100) were the only sectors to report job losses.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

  • Education and health services with 20,800 new jobs;
  • Government with 14,000 new jobs; and
  • Leisure and hospitality with 11,300 new jobs.

More in Business

Theater announced for Totem Lake development

The theater tenant for The Village at Totem Lake has been announced.

CitySurf pop-up pool could open this summer on Eastside

A Sammamish couple hopes to break ground on a permanent indoor surf facility later this year.

Real estate embraces the digital era in creative ways

Kirkland’s MainStreet Property Group’s Junction Apartments in downtown Bothell topic of discussion at recent real estate symposium.

Two wineries move in with Teatro ZinZanni

Two local wineries will be sharing the old Redhook brewery in Woodinville with Teatro ZinZanni.

Sound Publishing appoints new president and vice president

Josh O’Connor is the new president and publisher while Terry Ward is the new vice president.

Everyday Athlete’s new location is at 264 Central Way. Photos courtesy of Everyday Athlete
Kirkland sports apparel store moves downtown

Everyday Athlete sees community support after a big move from Juanita.

Seattle head tax worries Eastside business organizations

Seattle has passed a head tax to help fund homelessness services.

Office space is tight all across the Eastside

The Broderick Group released a report detailing low office vacancy rates across Eastside cities.

Pot sales going strong in Kirkland

Kirkland’s Higher Leaf brought in $8.5 million between October 2016 and and the following Halloween.

Kirkland native moves solar business to Kenmore

Northwest Electric and Solar is open for business in Kenmore following a move from Seattle.

Ivar’s and Kidd Valley hold annual Teacher of the Year contest

The fifteenth annual contest awards two teachers with $500 in supplies and a party for their class.