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Contact:   media@esd.wa.gov    

Payroll employment surges back in August

OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy gained an estimated 16,100 jobs (seasonally adjusted) in August. Job growth was highest in the following industries: government, education & health services, professional & business services and retail trade.

The July 2022 preliminary estimated gain of 6,600 jobs was revised to a gain of 10,200 jobs.

The seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for July was confirmed at 3.7% and remained constant in August.

"This month’s payroll numbers, along with last month’s upward revision, show the results of strong summer spending, which supported hiring by businesses,” said the Employment Security Department’s (ESD) State Economist Paul Turek. “However, the decline in household employment serves as an indication the labor market is beginning to cool.”

Visit ESD’s website to view the entire Monthly Employment Report for August.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 35,929 people in August, an increase of 1,468 over the previous month. Increases in paid claims within the administrative & support, waste management & remediation services, and agriculture sectors contributed to the overall increase in paid claims over the month.

National unemployment rate
The national unemployment rate increased in August from 3.5% to a preliminary rate of 3.7%. For comparison, the national unemployment rate (revised) for August 2021 was 5.2%.

Labor force contracts for second consecutive month
The state’s labor force in August was 4,020,700 – a decrease of 9,700 people from the previous month. Labor force is defined as the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 4,000 over the same period.

From August 2021 to August 2022, the state’s labor force increased by 91,400, while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 61,800.

From July to August, the number of people who were unemployed statewide increased slightly from 149,100 to 149,600. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed increased from 45,000 to 46,300 over the same period.

Of the industry sectors, in August:

  • Ten expanded.
  • Two contracted.
  • One was unchanged.

Private sector employment increased by 9,400 jobs while government employment increased by 6,700 jobs. Table 2 shows a summary of the job gains and losses in all 13 industry sectors.

Annual payrolls are up over the year for nearly every industry

Washington gained an estimated 161,100 jobs from August 2021 – August 2022, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 5.6%, up an estimated 158,900 jobs, while public sector employment rose by 0.5%, up an estimated 2,700 jobs.

From August 2021 – August 2022, 12 major industry sectors expanded and one contracted

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year over year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

  • Leisure and hospitality, up 32,500 jobs.
  • Professional and business services, up 31,900 jobs.
  • Education and health services, up 26,700 jobs.

The mining and logging industry is the one sector that contracted, losing 300 jobs from August 2021 – August 2022.

Table 1: Washington’s total jobs

*Revised from previous preliminary estimates. Preliminary monthly estimates for job losses or gains are based on a small Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll survey. Actual figures reported the following month are based on a more complete survey.   

Table 2: Job gains and losses by industry

Learn more about ESD’s monthly employment reports.

Every month, the Employment Security Department publishes preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates for the prior month’s job growth and unemployment. We also publish confirmed data for the month before last. See the entire Monthly Employment Report on our website. It includes:

  • Preliminary job estimates for July from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • A confirmed unemployment rate of 3.7% for July.
  • An adjustment to preliminary jobs data for July, with the estimated gain of 6,600 jobs revised to a gain of 10,200 jobs. The revised estimate represents a more accurate picture of developments in the job market in July by including information that was not available at the time of the previous month’s release.

Monthly Employment Report publication schedule for 2022

Preliminary data for the month of

State and Seattle Metropolitan Division data released

All other county data released

September 2022

Oct. 19

Oct. 25

October 2022

Nov. 16

Nov. 22

November 2022

Dec. 14

Dec. 20

December 2022

Jan. 18, 2023

Jan. 24, 2023

Labor market information

See more labor market information and tools, including interactive Tableau graphics, to highlight popular information and data.


Employment Security is a proud partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which provides employment and training assistance to job seekers and businesses. WorkSourceWA provides access to thousands of Washington jobs and other employment resources. WorkSource staff can connect job seekers with employers hiring right now in their community, identify training opportunities or help them brush up on application and interview skills. Job seekers and employers can find their nearest WorkSource center on the WorkSource office locator page.

U-6 unemployment rate

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization” for states to include annual averages for 2021. One such alternative measure is the U-6 rate, which considers not only the unemployed population in the official “U-3” unemployment rate, but also marginally attached workers and those employed part time for economic reasons. The U-6 rate is defined by BLS as the “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.” This U-6 measure measures the “unemployed, underemployed, and those who are not looking but who want a job.”

The U-6 unemployment rate for the four-quarter period from third quarter 2021 through second quarter 2022 for Washington state was 8.1 percent. This was lower compared to the 9.1 percent U-6 unemployment rate for the second quarter 2021 through first quarter period.

The U.S. U-6 unemployment rate for the four-quarter period from third quarter 2021 through second quarter 2022 was 7.6 percent.

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