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Employment Security Department
Monthly Employment Report for November 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 16, 2020

Contact:   media@esd.wa.gov    

Business payrolls show just 100 jobs added in November

OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 100 jobs in November and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for November remained the same as it was in October at 6.0 percent according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).


Total Jobs (losses or gains)

Unemployment rate

2019 Unemployment Rate

March 2020

-  27,900

5.1 percent

4.5 percent

April 2020

- 259,500*

16.3 percent*

4.4 percent

May 2020

- 44,900*

15.1 percent

4.4 percent

June 2020

+ 53,100*

10.0 percent*

4.3 percent

July 2020

+ 62,400

 10.2 percent*

4.2 percent

August 2020

+ 50,100*

  8.4 percent*

4.2 percent

September 2020

+ 9,300

  8.3 percent*

4.1 percent

October 2020


  6.0 percent

4.0 percent

November 2020

+     100

   6.0 percent

4.0 percent

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

“The government sector job losses almost completely counteracted private sector job gains in November,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “However, the rate of improvement in private employment has slowed, and the latest round of COVID restrictions creates the potential for payrolls to decline next month.”

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 October’s previously reported unemployment rate of 6.0 percent was confirmed at 6.0 percent. October’s preliminary estimated gain of 1,000 jobs was revised to a gain of 22,800 jobs.

The national unemployment rate decreased from 6.9 percent in October to 6.7 percent in November 2020. In November 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 3.5 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 400,291 people in November, a decrease of 53,507 over the previous month.

State labor force shrinks back

The state’s labor force in November was 3,839,900– a decrease of 155,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 6,900 over the same period.

From November 2019 through November 2020, the state’s labor force decreased by 106,600 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region decreased by 48,200.

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

From October 2020 to November 2020, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 237,800 to 229,500. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 82,400 to 75,600 over the same period.

Six industry sectors expanded, six sectors contracted, and one was unchanged in November

Private sector employment increased by 2,600 jobs while government employment decreased by 2,500 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

Industry sector                               Job gains/losses

Professional & business services

+  6,000

Other services

+     800

Financial activities

+     700

Transportation, warehousing & utilities

+      500


+      200

Education and health services

+      100

Mining and logging



-        300

Retail trade

-        600

Wholesale trade

-     1,000


-     1,500

Leisure & hospitality

-     2,300


-     2,500


The leisure and hospitality industry continues to be hardest hit with payroll job losses year-over-year

Washington lost an estimated 170,300 jobs from November 2019 through November 2020, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment fell by 4.4 percent, down an estimated 127,200 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 7.2 percent with a net loss of 43,100 jobs.

From November 2019 through November 2020, nine major industry sectors contracted while four industry sectors expanded.

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

  • Leisure and hospitality down 71,200 jobs
  • Government down 43,100 jobs
  • Manufacturing down 25,500 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 third quarter 2020 for Washington state was 13.0 percent. This was higher compared to the 10.9 percent U-6 unemployment rate second quarter prior. The annual U.S. U-6 unemployment rate was 12.3 percent in third 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.

Web links

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