State unemployment rate remains unchanged in January

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in January at 7.5 percent, while preliminary numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest the state gained an estimated 24,100 jobs, according to a press release Wednesday.

However, it has been more than 17 years since the state experienced that much job growth in one month, so state economists believe the number will be revised.

Joe Elling, chief labor economist for Washington's Employment Security Department, noted that the state's job growth averaged more than 5,000 a month for the past 12 months.

"The trend over the past year probably gives us a better idea of what's happening in the job market," Elling said.

According to the preliminary report for January, Washington added an estimated 5,500 jobs in the government sector, 4,600 jobs in leisure and hospitality, 4,000 in retail trade, 3,200 in professional and business services, 2,300 in construction, 1,600 in transportation, warehousing and utilities, 1,600 in "other services," 1,300 in wholesale trade and 700 in manufacturing.

The only industry to lose jobs was the private-sector education and health services industry, down 1,500.

An estimated 261,000 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in January, including 151,345 who claimed unemployment benefits.

Also in January, 3,349 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits, bringing the total to 128,808 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.



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