State economy gains jobs in August

The Evergreen State’s economy had another positive month of job gains and industry expansion in August as the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dipped yet again.

Washington gained 19,800 jobs, according to numbers released this week by the state Economic Security Department. The unemployment rate fell from 10.2 percent to 8.5 percent, and the unemployment rate in Kitsap County is 7.7 percent.

Ten of the state’s 13 major industry sectors added jobs, while two contracted and one stayed flat, as growth has slowed overall.

“The swings in payroll employment have been sizeable since March,” said Paul Turek, an ESD economist. “Although the jobs market continues to heal, August marks a slowdown from the initial hiring rebound from reopening.”

The state’s labor force, defined as the total number of people either employed or unemployed over the age of 16, contracted slightly as a whole, though it grew in the Puget Sound Region. Washington had a decrease of 6,000 people in the labor force from July, but in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, it increased by 6,300.

Weekly claims fall

A total of 508,568 received unemployment insurance benefits from the ESD in August, a decrease of 81,833 from July.

Kitsap saw a slight downtick during Sept. 6-12, the most recent week for which data is available. There were 514 initial claims, down from 598, a number that has held relatively steady for six week and is nearly a tenfold decrease from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In all, there were 18,403 initial regular claims in the state, down eight percent from the prior week, and a total of 566,443 for all unemployment categories, up 6.6 percent. There was an increase specifically in pandemic unemployment compensation.

The state’s largest counties — King, Pierce, Snohomish, Clark and Spokane — saw decreases in regular claims. Snohomish and Spokane were both down 14 percent, while King, Pierce and Clark were down nine percent.

The industry sectors with the highest number of initial claims were accommodation and food services (1,892 claims, down 6 percent); construction (1,760 claims, down 2 percent); educational services (1,751 claims, down 33 percent); health care and social assistance (1,613 claims, down 7 percent); and retail trade (1,533 claims, up 2 percent).

Lost Wages Assistance

If you’ve applied for the federal government’s Lost Wages Assistance program, which provides $300 per week for three weeks to those who have lost work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 and are currently receiving unemployment benefits, processing begins this week.

The ESD warned there will likely be delays as the department has to process a large number of payments.