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Washington’s unemployment at 6.8 percent in May

Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to an estimated 6.8 percent in May, the first time under 7 percent since November 2008, when the rate was 6.5 percent.

The state’s unemployment rate has fallen by 0.7 percentage points since the start of the year.

The state added an estimated 4,100 jobs in May, seasonally adjusted. Meanwhile, economists revised the April job numbers downward by 2,100 jobs, from a preliminary estimated gain of 3,800 to a gain of 1,700.

“Washington’s labor market is continuing to recover and expand at a modest rate,” said Paul Turek, a labor economist for Employment Security, in a press release.

Industries with the most estimated job gains in May were government, up 3,200; education and health services, up 2,500; leisure and hospitality, up 1,500; transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 600; and retail trade, up 300 jobs.

Industries showing the most job losses last month included “other services,” down 1,400; manufacturing, down 600; professional and business services, down 500; construction, down 500; wholesale trade, down 400; financial activities, down 300; and information, down 200.

Most of the increase in government jobs occurred in higher education and state government. Turek said the estimated increases were due to delays in seasonal staffing reductions, which threw off the seasonal adjustment factors.

Seasonal adjustment is process in which normal seasonal changes are removed or discounted, thus making underlying trends easier to identify. When seasonal changes occur earlier or later than normal, it can cause preliminary estimates to appear larger or smaller than they really are.

So far, Washington has regained about 79 percent (162,100) of the 205,000 jobs it lost during the recession.

In May, an estimated 236,900 people (seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work. That includes 119,686 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.

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