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News release

Monthly Employment Report for October 2021


Contact:   media@esd.wa.gov    

ESD Monthly Employment Report: State labor market recovers more jobs in October

OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 6,300 jobs in October. Between September and October, the preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.0 percent.

According to the Employment Security Department’s (ESD) Economist Paul Turek, “The state has been making continued progress toward recovering jobs lost during the pandemic. Constraints that may have prevented workers from re-entering the labor market are easing, and more workers appear to be taking advantage of the high availability of jobs.”

The Monthly Employment Report also includes:

  • Preliminary job estimates for October from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Revised preliminary unemployment rate for September from 4.9 percent to 5.1 percent.
  • An adjustment to preliminary jobs data for September, with the preliminary estimated gain of 17,600 jobs revised upward to a gain of 18,800 jobs.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 58,998 people in October, a decrease of 183,002 over the previous month.

National data

The national unemployment rate dropped from 4.8 percent in September to the preliminary rate of 4.6 percent in October. For comparison, the national unemployment rate (revised) last year, in October 2020, was 6.9 percent.

Employers are pulling workers back into the labor force

The state’s labor force in October was 3,935,600 – an increase of 7,600 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 increased by 1,900 over the same period. From October 2020 to October 2021, the state’s labor force decreased by 46,200 while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 18,700.

From September to October, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased slightly from 198,700 to 198,100. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 86,600 to 86,000 over the same period.

Of the industry sectors, in October:

  • Seven expanded.
  • Five contracted.
  • One remained constant.

Private sector employment increased by 15,600 jobs while government employment decreased by 9,300 jobs. Table 2 shows a summary of the job gains and losses in all 13 industry sectors.

Leisure and hospitality industry continues to recover while pandemic subsides

Washington gained an estimated 156,600 jobs from October 2020 – October 2021, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 5.1 percent, up an estimated 138,000 jobs, while public sector employment rose by 3.4 percent, up an estimated 18,600 jobs.

From October 2020 – October 2021, 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 46,500 jobs.
  • Professional and business services up 26,700 jobs.
  • Government up 18,600 jobs.

The industry sector that contracted year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, was mining and logging, down 100 jobs.

Table 1: Washington’s total jobs

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

Table 2: Job gains and losses by industry

Monthly Employment Report publication schedule for 2021

Preliminary data for the month of:

State and Seattle Metropolitan Division data released

All other county data released

January 2021

March 16

March 16

February 2021

March 24

March 30

March 2021

April 14

April 20

April 2021

May 19

May 25

May 2021

June 16

June 22

June 2021

July 14

July 20

July 2021

Aug. 18

Aug. 24

August 2021

Sept. 15

Sept. 21

September 2021

Oct. 20

Oct. 26

October 2021

Nov. 17

Nov. 23

November 2021

Dec. 15

Dec. 21

December 2021

Jan. 19, 2022

Jan. 25, 2022

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.com 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 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 Washington state U-6 unemployment rate for the third quarter 2020 through the second quarter 2021 was 13.5 percent. This was lower compared to the 15.8 percent U-6 unemployment rate for the second quarter 2020 through the first quarter 2021.

The U.S. U-6 unemployment rate for the third quarter 2020 through the second quarter 2021 was 11.9 percent.

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