OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 4,400 jobs in January and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate decreased from 7.1 percent in December (revised) to 6.0 percent in January according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

“The new year is off to a better start as far as the labor market is concerned,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “January’s employment gain only partially reverses last month’s decline, but as more vaccinations are given and business conditions improve, the labor market recovery should strengthen.”

ESD released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.

The department also announced that December’s previously reported unemployment rate of 7.1 was confirmed. December’s preliminary estimated loss of 9,900 jobs was revised to a loss of 5,400 jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 6.7 percent in December 2020 to 6.3 percent in January 2021. In January 2020, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.5 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 433,524 people in January, a decrease of 1,216 over the previous month.

State labor force declines as more individuals exit

The state’s labor force in January was 3,835,200– a decrease of 29,500 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 3,900 over the same period.

From January 2020 to January 2021, the state’s labor force decreased by 120,000 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 6,800.

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

From December 2020 – January 2021, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 272,500 to 228,600. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 122,200 to 100,400 over the same period.

Seven industry sectors expanded and six sectors contracted in January

Private sector employment decreased 2,800 jobs while government employment increased by 1,600 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

  • Industry sector Job gains/losses
  • Leisure & hospitality + 4,800
  • Education & health services + 4,700
  • Government + 1,600
  • Information + 800
  • Retail trade + 500
  • Wholesale trade + 200
  • Mining & logging + 100
  • Construction – 100
  • Other services – 500
  • Manufacturing – 700
  • Financial activities – 1,200
  • Transportation, warehousing & utilities – 2,400
  • Professional & business services – 3,400

Revisions to data show annual job losses more severe than first reported

Washington lost an estimated 234,000 jobs from January 2020 – January 2021, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment fell by 6.5 percent, down an estimated 185,600 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 8.1 percent with a net loss of 48,400 jobs.

From January 2020 – January 2021, ten major industry sectors contracted while three industry sectors expanded.

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

  • Leisure and hospitality down 112,700 jobs
  • Government down 48,400 jobs
  • Manufacturing down 32,100 jobs

Labor market information

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