Unemployment rate falls to historic low in July; payroll employment continues to grow

Table 1: Washington’s total jobs [ Table 1 Graphic attached ] *Revised from previous preliminary estimates. Preliminary monthly estimates for job losses origins are based on a small Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll survey while actual figures reported the following month are based on a more complete survey.

Job gains and losses by industry

Olympia- Washington’s economy gained an estimated 6,600 jobs (seasonally adjusted) in July. Job growth was concentrated in the following industries: Leisure and hospitality, government, construction, and information.

Also in July, the preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate decreased slightly from 3.8 percent to 3.7 percent. By comparison, the unemployment rate in July 2021 was 5.2 percent.

"The unemployment rate in Washington reached a new low based on a review of state records dating back to 1976 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” said Paul Turek, the Employment Security Department’s (ESD) state economist. “Labor demand over the summer has been strong, but the supply of workers is no longer growing like it was at the beginning of the year.”

Visit ESD’s website to view the entire Monthly Employment Report for July.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 34,461 people in July, a decrease of 1,786 compared to the previous month.  Decreases in paid claims within the construction and agriculture sectors contributed to an overall decrease in paid claims in July.

National unemployment rates- The national unemployment rate decreased slightly in July to a preliminary rate of 3.5 percent. For comparison, the national unemployment rate (revised) for July 2021 was 5.4 percent.

Labor supply contracts in July

The state’s labor force in July was 4,030,800 – a decrease of 8,100 people from the previous month. Labor force is defined as the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, older than 16.

In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 1,100 during the same period.

From July 2021 to July 2022, the state’s labor force increased by 114,000, while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 70,100.

From June to July, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 155,400 to 149,300. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 46,400 to 45,100 during the same period.

Of the industry sectors, in July, six expanded, five contracted, and two were unchanged.

Private sector employment increased by 3,400 jobs while government employment increased by 3,200 jobs. Table 2 shows a summary of the job gains and losses in all 13 industry sectors.

Annual payrolls continue to expand for nearly every industry

Washington gained an estimated 161,700 jobs from July 2021 – July 2022, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 5.5%, up an estimated 157,100 jobs, while public sector employment rose by 0.8%, up an estimated 4,600 jobs.

From July 2021-July 2022, 12 major industry sectors expanded and one contracted

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

• Leisure and hospitality, up 39,000 jobs.

• Professional and business services, up 31,200 jobs.

• Education and health services, up 22,200 jobs.

The mining and logging industry is the one sector that contracted, losing 400 jobs from July 2021-July 2022.

Learn more about ESD’s monthly employment reports.

Every month, Employment Security Department publishes preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates for the prior month’s job growth and unemployment. We also publish confirmed data for the month before last. See the entire Monthly Employment Report on our website. It includes:

• Preliminary job estimates for July from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• A revised unemployment rate of 3.8 percent for June.

• An adjustment to preliminary jobs data for June, with the estimated gain of 2,500 jobs revised to a gain of 5,000 jobs. The revised estimate represents a more accurate picture of developments in the job market for June by including additional information that was not available at the time of the previous month’s release.

Labor market information

See more labor market information and tools, including interactive Tableau graphics, to highlight popular information and data at esd.wa.gov.


Employment Security is a proud partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which provides employment and training assistance to job seekers and businesses. WorkSource WA provides access to thousands of Washington jobs and other employment resources. WorkSource staff can connect job seekers with employers hiring right now in their community, identify training opportunities or help them brush up on application and interview skills. Job seekers and employers can find their nearest WorkSource center on the WorkSource office locator page at worksourcewa.com.

U-6 unemployment rate

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization” for states to include annual averages for 2021. One such alternative measure is the U-6 rate, which considers not only the unemployed population in the official “U-3” unemployment rate, but also marginally attached workers and those employed part time for economic reasons. The U-6 rate is defined by BLS as the “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.” This U-6 measure measures the “unemployed, underemployed, and those who are not looking but who want a job.”

The U-6 unemployment rate for the four-quarter period from third quarter 2021 through second quarter 2022 for Washington state was 8.1 percent. This was lower compared to the 9.1 percent U-6 unemployment rate for the second quarter 2021 through first quarter period.

The national U-6 unemployment rate for the four-quarter period from third quarter 2021 through second quarter 2022 was 7.6 percent.


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