Media contact: Jamie Swift, communications manager, 360-902-0904

OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy gained an estimated 1,600 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate edged up to 9.5 percent from February’s revised rate of 9.4 percent. 

March job gains marked the second time in three months the state has posted positive job numbers. That’s on the heels of 13 consecutive months of job losses stretching from the end of 2008 to the end of 2009. 

“This recovery is going to take time, but the latest job gains are another positive indicator that we’re on the right track,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee.

Industries that added jobs in March were professional and business services, up 1,500; retail trade, up 500; leisure and hospitality, up 500; government, up 400; wholesale trade, up 300; transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 300; information, up 300; and mining and logging, up 200. 

Meanwhile, construction dropped an estimated 1,400 jobs in March. Other industries that shed jobs were financial activities, down 700, and education and health services, down 300.

The labor force grew by nearly 6,000 people in March. It’s likely that many of them previously grew discouraged, stopped looking for work and are now job-hunting again, said Dave Wallace, an economist at Employment Security. 

People who are unemployed but not actively seeking work are not factored into the unemployment rate. When discouraged workers rejoin the job market faster than jobs are created, they can cause the unemployment rate to rise.

“This is a common phenomenon during an economic recovery,” said Wallace. “As people grow more optimistic about their job prospects, they start looking again.”

Year over year, Washington had 67,800 fewer jobs last month than in March 2009, a 2.4 percent decrease.  Nationally, employment was down 1.8 percent compared to a year ago.

An estimated 347,720 people (not seasonally adjusted) in Washington were unemployed and looking for work, and more than 291,000 people received unemployment benefits from Washington in March.

Anyone who is looking for work should consider visiting a local WorkSource career center. Employment Security is a partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which offers a variety of employment and training services, including free help with interviewing skills, résumés and job referrals. 

Locations of local WorkSource offices are listed online at www.go2worksource.com.  Assistance also is available by phone at 877-872-5627.  

In addition, more than 19,000 job openings are posted on www.go2worksource.com.


Broadcast version

Washington’s economy gained an estimated 16-hundred jobs in March. 

The job gains marked the second time in three months that the state has posted positive job numbers. 

The unemployment rate in March was an estimated nine-point-five percent – slightly higher than the nine-point-four percent unemployment rate in February.

Professional and business services added the most jobs in March, while construction had the largest losses. 

Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee said recent job gains are a promising sign that our economy is moving in the right direction.