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Employment Security Department


Contact:   media@esd.wa.gov

Washington economy recovers more jobs but unemployment rate rises

OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 44,500 jobs in July and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for July rose slightly from 10.0 percent to 10.3 percent according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).


Total Jobs (losses or gains)

Unemployment rate

2019 Unemployment Rate

March 2020

-  25,400

5.1 percent

4.5 percent

April 2020


16.3 percent*

4.4 percent

May 2020


15.1 percent

4.4 percent

June 2020

+ 140,600*

10.0 percent*

4.3 percent

July 2020

+  44,500

 10.3 percent

4.2 percent

*Revised from previous preliminary estimates

“Although payroll job growth continued in July, the pace at which the jobs were added slowed,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Over the last three months, nearly half of the jobs lost during the pandemic have come back, but there remains a long way to go.

ESD released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.

The department also announced that June’s previously reported unemployment rate of 9.8 percent was revised upward to 10.0 percent. June’s preliminary estimated gain of 71,000 jobs was revised to a gain of 140,600 jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 11.1% percent in June 2020 to 10.2 percent in July 2020. In July 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.7 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 590,401 people in July, a an increase of 24,601 over the previous month.

More employed and unemployed workers enter the state labor force

The state’s labor force in July was 3,968,200 – an increase of 75,000 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 2,200 over the same period.

From July 2019 through July 2020, the state’s labor force grew by 48,500 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 15,000.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

From June 2020 to July 2020, the number of people who were unemployed statewide increased from 389,800 to 408,000. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 166,300 to 142,800 over the same period.

Nine industry sectors expanded and four sectors contracted in July

Private sector employment increased by 37,000jobs while government employment increased by 7,500 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

              Industry sector                                                 Job gains/losses

Leisure and hospitality



+  7,500

Education and health services

+  7,300

Professional & business services

+  5,100

Retail trade

+  4,700

Other services

+  2,500

Transportation, warehousing and utilities

+  2,300

Financial activities

+  1,300


+  1,000

Mining and logging

-      100


-      400

Wholesale trade

-    1,100


-    1,500

Year-over-year loss in payroll employment evident in public and private sectors

Washington lost an estimated 245,000 jobs from July 2019 through July 2020, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment fell by 7.3 percent, down an estimated 212,600 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 5.6 percent with a net loss of 32,400 jobs.

From July 2019 through July 2020, all thirteen major industry sectors contracted except retail trade.

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

  • Leisure and hospitality down 103,300 jobs
  • Government down 32,400 jobs
  • Education and health services down 24,400 jobs

Labor market information

Check it out! ESD has new 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. While WorkSource centers are closed for in-person services during the COVID-19 outbreak, customers can still get help from WorkSource staff by phone and through the Live Chat feature on WorkSourceWA.com. The website provides access to thousands of Washington jobs and other employment resources. Chat agents cannot answer unemployment benefit questions.

Note: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization” for states to include annual averages for first quarter 2020. 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 second quarter 2020 for Washington state was 10.9 percent. This was higher compared to the 7.7 percent U-6 unemployment rate one quarter prior. The annual U.S. U-6 unemployment rate was 10.4 percent in second quarter 2020.

Labor market information questions regarding COVID-19 

For workers or businesses affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Employment Security Department (ESD) has programs that may be able to help. Please see ESD’s website for more information.  For labor market information questions regarding COVID-19, please email ESD’s Director of Labor Market and Economic Analysis.


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