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Employment Security Department
Monthly Employment Report for April 2021


Contact:   media@esd.wa.gov    

Payroll employment growth slows in April but remains positive

OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 11,200 jobs in April and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate stayed constant at 5.5 percent from March to April, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).


Total Jobs (losses or gains)

Unemployment rate

2019/2020 Unemployment Rate

March 2020




5.3 percent*

4.4 percent

April 2020




16.3 percent*

4.3  percent

May 2020




12.5 percent*

4.2 percent

June 2020

+ 83,900*

10.8 percent*

4.1 percent

July 2020

+ 37,900


 10.8 percent*

4.1 percent

August 2020

+ 30,600*

  9.1 percent*

4.1 percent

September 2020

+ 13,000*

  8.0 percent*

4.0 percent

October 2020

+   2,700*

  7.0 percent*

3.9 percent

November 2020

+   7,100*

  6.7 percent*

3.9 percent

December 2020

-  11,100*


  6.3 percent

3.9 percent

January 2021

+   5,100*

  6.0 percent

4.0 percent

February 2021

+ 29,600*

  5.6 percent

4.1 percent

March 2021

+ 28,100*

  5.5 percent*

5.3 percent

April 2021

+ 11,200

  5.5 percent

16.3 percent

*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.

“This month shows that recovering lost jobs from the pandemic is not a seamless process,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Meanwhile, leisure and hospitality services, the hardest hit sector in the economy, continues to make a comeback.”

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 March’s previously reported unemployment rate of 5.6 percent was revised to 5.5 percent. March’s preliminary estimated gain of 23,100 jobs was revised upward to a gain of 28,100 jobs.

The national unemployment rate rose slightly from 6.0 percent in March to 6.1 percent in April. In April 2020, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 14.8 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 376,064 people in April, a decrease of 52,726 over the previous month.

More workers are returning to the job market

The state’s labor force in April was 3,864,900 – an increase of 14,200 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 3,600 over the same period.

From April 2020 to April 2021, the state’s labor force decreased by 123,500 while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 45,800.

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

From March to April, the number of people who were unemployed statewide increased from 210,800 to 213,100. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed increased from 94,000 to 94,500 over the same period.

 Eight industry sectors expanded, four industry sectors contracted and one industry sector remained constant in April

Private sector employment increased by 7,600 jobs while government employment increased by 3,600 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

              Industry sector                             Job gains/losses

Leisure & hospitality

+    8,100


+    3,600

Wholesale trade

+    1,900

Education and health services

+    1,300


+         800

Financial activities

+         700

Other services

+         300

Retail trade

+         200

Mining & logging



-          300


 -         700

Transportation, warehousing and utilities

-       1,300

Professional and business services

-       3,400


Employment is now up from one year ago

Washington gained an estimated 230,700 jobs from April 2020 – April 2021, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 9.4 percent, up an estimated 238,700 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 1.4 percent with a net loss of 8,000 jobs.

From April 2020 – April 2021, ten major industry sectors expanded while three industry sectors contracted.

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

  • Leisure and hospitality up 67,400 jobs
  • Retail trade up 53,200 jobs
  • Education and health services up 48,600 jobs

The three industry sectors which contracted year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

  • Manufacturing down 12,900 jobs
  • Government down 8,000 jobs
  • Financial activities down 700 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.

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

August 18

August 24

August 2021

September 15

September 21

September 2021

October 20

October 26

October 2021

November 17

November 23

November 2021

December 15

December 21

December 2021

January 19, 2022

January 25, 2022


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 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 through the first quarter 2021 for Washington state was 15.8 percent. This was higher compared to the 14.8 percent U-6 unemployment annual 2020 rate. The U.S. U-6 unemployment rate for the second quarter 2020 through the first quarter 2021 was 14.5 percent.


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

Web links

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