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Washington unemployment rate drops to 4.3 percent

November 14, 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — State officials say Washington’s jobless rate dropped to 4.3 percent last month, continuing a trend of the state’s unemployment rate dropping to historic lows.

The unemployment rate dipped slightly from September’s 4.4 percent, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Employment Security Department. The state also added 12,400 jobs in October, officials said.

Paul Turek, labor economist for the department, noted that the rate has been setting new monthly lows since May, and that October’s rate establishes the latest historic low for unemployment since comparable record-keeping began in 1976.

“It’s definitely a trend,” he said. “What we’re looking at is essentially an economic expansion coming out of the recession.”

During the recession, the state’s unemployment rate soared as high as 10.4 percent in December 2009, Turek said. A year ago this time, the state rate was at 4.7 percent.

The state has added an estimated 119,200 jobs since October 2017, with the private sector adding 112,100 jobs and the public sector gaining 7,100.

The largest job gains last month were seen in construction, leisure and hospitality, and information. The only industry that saw job losses was the retail trade sector.

Job gains and losses are estimates based on a survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate counts the percentage of people who are unemployed and actively looking for work, and it doesn’t include those who have stopped looking for work.

The national unemployment rate for October was 3.7 percent, and the rate in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett region was 3.3 percent.

The latest numbers released Wednesday also include a broader unemployment measure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That rate — called a U-6 rate — measures “unemployed, underemployed and those who are not looking but who want a job.” The U-6 rate for the fourth quarter of 2017 through the third quarter of 2018 was 8.4 percent in Washington state and 7.8 percent nationally during that same period.

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