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

Courtesy photo 
                                Mercer Island financial adviser Bob Toomey recently summited Mount Shasta in California.
Financial success and mountaineering

The steps to achieving financial success mirror mountain climbing.

The new Bothell Friday Market will run from 3-8 p.m., every Friday through Sept. 27. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
New Bothell Friday Market opens

Bothell Friday Market will run every Friday through Sept. 27

Kiddie Academy locations on the Eastside win national recognition

Six locally owned educational child care centers received an award for brand excellence and customer service.

Selection and steady sales characterize local market

Buyers can enjoy additional selection this summer as they look for the home of their choice.

The Bothell Kenmore Chamber of Commerce honored the Country Village owner as member of the month after it closed at the beginning of June. Kailan Manandic / staff photo
Eastside business booms with summer options

Locals can visit numerous new developments this summer, all within Eastside communities.

First & Main Design Market offers a broad assortment of vintage and artisan built furniture pieces. Each piece is specifically and carefully selected. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
First & Main Design Market opens in Bothell

The new destination store offers retail furniture, vintage treasures, and professional interior design services.

Just Get Me Started founder Suzanne Tseng participates in one of the weekly workshops that taught locals how to create intricate chalk art.
Kenmore’s Tseng helps locals ‘just get started’

Suzanne Tseng launched her business Just Get Me Started to help locals pick up hobbies and skills.

From left: Craig Olson, Joan Schrammeck, and Paula Paula DelGiudice with a solar panel. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Little Bit in Redmond goes solar

Northwest Electric and Solar (NWES) of Kenmore donates a solar energy system to the therapeutic riding center.

Microsoft reveals project criteria for $500 million affordable housing funds

The company will soon accept applications for projects related to affordable housing on the Eastside.

Local real estate market brings more opportunities for buyers

Homebuyers are also benefiting from lower interest rates, which are currently are less than four percent.

Maurita Colburn, the chamber’s Member and Community Relations manager, welcomes Country Village owner Leeann Tesorieri as she receives a standing ovation from local business owners. Kailan Manandic/staff photo
Bothell Kenmore Chamber honors Country Village

The chamber awarded Country Village owner, Leeann Tesorieri, as member of the month.

Kailan Manandic/staff photo 
                                Bothell’s newest animal hospital opens with a joint celebration hosted by the Bothell Kenmore Chamber of Commerce.
Twin Pines Animal Hospital offers new vet services in Bothell

The animal hospital had been operating in the community for years before opening a new location.