Employment Security Department
Monthly Employment Report for August 2021


Contact:   media@esd.wa.gov    

Payroll employment growth slows slightly in August but remains strong

OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy added 16,800 jobs in August and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate remained constant at 5.1 percent from July to August, 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

+ 83,400*

10.8 percent*

4.1 percent

July 2020


+ 38,900


 10.8 percent*

4.1 percent

August 2020

+ 30,100*

  9.1 percent*

4.1 percent

September 2020

+ 12,400*

  8.0 percent*

4.0 percent

October 2020

+   6,200*

  7.0 percent*

3.9 percent

November 2020

+   7,600*

  6.7 percent*

3.9 percent

December 2020


-    9,100*


  6.3 percent

3.9 percent

January 2021

+   8,100*

  6.0 percent

4.0 percent

February 2021

+ 20,200*

  5.6 percent

4.1 percent

March 2021

+ 23,900*

  5.5 percent*

5.3 percent

April 2021

+ 13,200

  5.4 percent*

16.3 percent

May 2021

+   9,100*

  5.2 percent*

12.5 percent

June 2021


  5.2 percent

10.8 percent

July 2021


  5.1 percent

10.8 percent

August 2021


  5.1 percent

 9.1 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.

“August’s job gain numbers were reasonably solid in the face of renewed health concerns,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “But the uncertainty around the Delta variant is likely to result in an uneven labor market recovery.”

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 July’s previously reported unemployment rate of 5.1 percent was confirmed. July’s preliminary estimated gain of 22,700 jobs was revised upward to a gain of 24,300 jobs.

The national unemployment rate dropped from 5.4 percent in July to 5.2 percent in August. In August 2020, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 8.4 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 274,036 people in August, a decrease of 42,307 over the previous month.

Workers continue to trickle back to the labor force

The state’s labor force in August was 3,923,000 – an increase of 16,700 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 3,800 over the same period.

From August 2020 to August 2021, the state’s labor force increased by 36,900 while the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 25,900.

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

From July to August, the number of people who were unemployed statewide decreased from 199,200 to 198,800. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the number of people who were unemployed decreased from 89,200 to 88,700 over the same period.

Nine industry sectors expanded, three industry sectors contracted, and one industry sector remained constant in August

Private sector employment increased by 13,000 jobs while government employment increased by 3,800 jobs. Provided below is a summary of the job gains and losses in all thirteen industry sectors.

    Industry sector                                      Job gains/losses

Leisure and hospitality

+    8,500


+    3,800

Professional and business services

+    3,400


+    2,000

Transportation, warehousing and utilities

+    1,500

Other services

+       700

Education and health services

+       200

Financial activities

+       100


+       100

Mining and logging


Wholesale trade

-        200


-     1,600

Retail trade

-     1,700


Leisure and hospitality industry once again contributes most of the job gains

Washington gained an estimated 174,600 jobs from August 2020 – August 2021, not seasonally adjusted. Private sector employment rose by 6.5 percent, up an estimated 175,100 jobs, while public sector employment fell by 0.1 percent, down an estimated 500 jobs.

From August 2020 – August 2021, ten major industry sectors expanded, two industry sectors contracted, and one remained constant.

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

  • Leisure and hospitality up 63,400 jobs
  • Professional and business services up 34,800 jobs
  • Education and health services up 25,700 jobs

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

  • Manufacturing down 5,100 jobs
  • Government down 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.

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.  WorkSourceWA.com provides access to thousands of Washington jobs and other employment resources. WorkSource staff can connect you with employers hiring right now in your community, identify training opportunities or help you brush up on your application and interview skills. Find your nearest WorkSource center on the WorkSource office locator page.

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 third quarter 2020 through the second quarter 2021 for Washington state 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.


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

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