The Washington state economy created 5,000 jobs in July, but that didn't stop the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate from increasing to 8.5 percent last month from 8.3 percent in June, according to preliminary data released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department.
The reason? The jobless rate rose largely as a result of a decline in the total workforce and a small increase in the number of unemployed looking for work.
The July numbers illustrate that surveys arent perfect, and preliminary results are often revised later, Employment Security chief labor economist Joe Elling said. When you compare where we are now to the same period a year ago, its apparent that the labor market is improving."
A year ago in July the state's jobless rate was 9.3 percent. The total labor force since then has grown to more than 39,000 and the number of jobless workers has fallen by about 24,500.
A job category known as "other industries," added the most jobs in the June-to-July period with 2,900. The "other industries" category includes jobs such as equipment repair, religious activities, dry cleaning, funeral services, pet care and dating services.
Professional and business services shed 4,600 jobs, followed by government with 1,300 jobs.
An estimated 298,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in July, which includes 139,444 who claimed unemployment benefits last month.
Also in July, 4,212 unemployed workers ran out of unemployment benefits, bringing the total to 105,240 since extended benefits were activated in July 2008.
Pierce County jobless data, which are not seasonally adjusted, will be released Tuesday. In June, the county had a jobless rate of 9.1 percent.