Here’s a strange one. Employment went up last month and so did the unemployment rate. The state Employment Security Department released its monthly report regarding employment in the state of Washington, and apparently both are possible at the same time. The department says it’s possible for that to happen because the total workforce has declined and there is a slight increase in the number who are looking for work. Of course, it’s all in the way you look at it. The way the department’s news release puts it, jobs and the unemployment rate went in opposite directions — but really the way the calculations work both went up. Big thing is that employment picture looks a little better than it did a year ago.
Here’s the news release:
Job Numbers, Unemployment Rate go Opposite Directions in July
OLYMPIA – Preliminary estimates of the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate and job numbers in Washington last month are seemingly at odds again, similar to the national numbers.
The initial findings indicate the state gained 5,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate rose from 8.3 percent in June to 8.5 percent in July, according to the Washington Employment Security Department. Both figures are subject to future revisions as more data come in.
Most of the July job growth occurred in the “other industries” sector, which encompasses a hodgepodge of service-related businesses such as equipment repair, religious activities, dry cleaning, funeral services, pet care and dating services.
By contrast, the biggest losses were found in the professional and business services sector, which enjoyed substantial growth over the previous several months.
The rise in the unemployment rate stemmed largely from a 9,700 decline in the total workforce and a small increase in the number of unemployed who are looking for work.
“The July numbers illustrate that surveys aren’t perfect, and preliminary results are often revised later,” said Joe Elling, Employment Security’s chief labor economist. “When you compare where we are now to the same period a year ago, it’s apparent that the labor market is improving.”
In July 2011, the state’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent. Since then, the total labor force has grown by more than 39,000, and the number of unemployed workers who are actively looking for job has shrunk by about 24,500.
Industries that added the most jobs last month included other services, which added 2,900 jobs; education and health services, up 1,900; manufacturing, up 1,600; wholesale trade, up 1,200; leisure and hospitality, which gained 1,200; transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 900; and financial activities, up 900.
Industries that lost jobs included professional and business services, down 4,600, and government, which lost another 1,300 jobs.
Within the government sector, federal employment in Washington grew by 300 jobs, state agencies lost an estimated 2,400 jobs, public higher education added 500 jobs, and local government added 300 jobs. There was no change in K-12 educational employment.
In July, an estimated 298,000 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 139,444 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.
Also in July, 4,212 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits, bringing the total to 105,240 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.