Seattle Monthly Job Growth Hits 13-Year High in June

New local job stats came out this week, so let’s have a look at the Seattle area’s employment situation.

First up, year-over-year job growth, broken down into a few relevant sectors:

Seattle-Area YOY Job Gains / Losses

Since things are getting really jumbled together lately on that chart, I broke down just the last year and zoomed in so you can see what’s going on:

Seattle-Area YOY Job Gains / Losses

With 4.7% year-over-year growth, the retail sector was again the fastest-growing in June. Overall year-over-year growth increased from 2.5% in May to 2.8% in June.

Surprisingly, even though the year-over-year growth is still relatively weak, the 17,100 jobs that were added between May and June (not adjusted for seasonality) is more than any month since March 2000. Here’s what the raw monthly picture looks like over the last few years:

Seattle-Area MOM Job Gains / Losses

Next up, here’s a look at the overall Seattle area unemployment rate compared to the national rate:

Seattle-Area Unemployment Rate

Unemployment was flat at 4.7% in the Seattle area in June. Washington State unemployment also leveled off, matching May’s 6.8% rate. The national level was totally flat as well at 7.6%.

By request, here’s a chart showing the national labor participation rate. The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed people by the “total labor force.” The participation rate is the “total labor force” divided by the total population of people 16 and older. Unfortunately monthly population estimates broken down by age don’t exist at a state or county level (or if they do I could not locate them).

Seattle-Area Unemployment Rate

The national participation rate currently stands 2.5 points below where it was before the “great recession” began in late 2007, and has been mostly flat for a year.


Seasonally adjusted series used for all data sets.

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1

    One Chart is Missing Tim

    360K part time jobs were added nationally [I assume we got our share too] and 240K full time jobs were butcher axed….unemployment is going down, we’re sharing jobs now.

    20,000 DOD workers in the Seattle area are working P/T too….they aren’t unemployed?

    During the Great Depression P/T and severely under-employed were counted as “unemployed”. Thy should be.

  2. 2
    SG says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1
    SWE, you never let us down.

  3. 3
    Blurtman says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1 – Drink the Kool Aid. Drink it!

  4. 4
    pfft says:

    By SG @ 2:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 1
    SWE, you never let us down.

    thankfully I will chime with a well-timed link please people and save the conversation.

  5. 5
    Blurtman says:

    Kudos to The Tim for including the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in his analyses. As mentioned earlier, even the apologist Chicago Fed says that a little more that half of the record decline in the LFPR is due to the crappy economy. Boo Obama. Boo Tan Man Boner. Boo sour puss McConnell.

    And remember, kids, citing the unemployment rate without also discussing the LFPR is like exclaiming that you have lost weigth without also disclosing that your leg has been amputated.

  6. 6
    Saulac says:

    Wow, the paticipation rate is almost off the chart!
    Oh wait, the vertial axis is from 0% to only 70%. Best if vertical axis is shown from 60% to 70%.

  7. 7
    Nick says:

    An increase in temp employment is a leading indicator for an increase in full-time employment.

  8. 8
    Blurtman says:

    Even the Bernanke admits that the unemployment rate alone is not a good indicator of the health of the labor market.

    Bernanke: unemployment rate may overstate labour health
    Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the unemployment rate probably overstates the health of the US jobs market, reports the FT on 10JUL13.

    Answering questions after giving a speech in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mr Bernanke said:

    Currently we have an unemployment rate of 7.6 pc, that, if anything, overstates the health of the labour market

    The Fed chairman pointed to the declining labour participation rate, which economists have argued is down, in part, to a number of people giving up the search for work.

    11:27 pm • 10 July 2013

  9. 9
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Nick @ 7 – It is also a leading indicator for a poorly-conceived national healthcare system.

  10. 10
    Jonness says:

    By Saulac @ 6:

    Wow, the paticipation rate is almost off the chart!
    Oh wait, the vertial axis is from 0% to only 70%. Best if vertical axis is shown from 60% to 70%.

    I would also like to see it from 60 to 70%, thus zooming in on the data being tracked as opposed to showing a bunch of empty white space, which makes up the majority of the chart.

    That being said, Tim continues to do an excellent job on this blog, and I’m continually impressed by his enthusiasm and expertise. :)

  11. 11
    doug says:

    The whole country is going down the lousy road of Texas where there are jobs but they only pay minimum wage and are part time. Most jobs require extensive background checks by human resource departments that are overstaffed by facebook and linked in investigators.
    The real unemployment rate is close to 50% and we are and have been in a greater depression for close to 6 years. Ronald Reagan and trickle down economics are failing everywhere and just like Detroit all big cities will soon be declaring bankruptcy.

    American history is no longer being taught in school as todays corporatists and politicians do not want the kids to know what jefferson washington and franklin knew about greed of the rich.

    It was supposed to be government of the people by the people for the people
    its not today its FOR THE CORPORATIONS

  12. 12
    Lo Ball Jones says:

    Remember this house:

    This is the little small house (900 sf) that drew people to Seattle back in the day.

    In Witchita, KS…it’s selling for $49,500…just like yesteryear.

  13. 13
    David Losh says:

    RE: wreckingbull @ 9

    You’re right, we need a National Health Care Plan run by the government, and get Health Care out of the hands of employers.

    Health Care Insurance has become a club that employers use to beat employees into submission.

    We have created a slavery system using Health Care Benefits as the whip.

  14. 14
    Lo Ball Jones says:

    RE: Nick @ 7

    Or a sign of a major population drop, especially among migratory or transitory people (living in friends house) types who have fled Seattle.

  15. 15

    RE: Blurtman @ 8

    Seattle/Bellevue/Everett Total Labor Force Rises to 2009′ s High

    IOWs its been basically FLAT for 4 years now.


  16. 16
    Blurtman says:

    RE: softwarengineer @ 15 – Right. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the metrics that are meaningful in analyzing the health of the labor market. Unemployment rate, labor force participation rate, and the mean wage level of jobs created. It does take a deceptive politican and those whose check depends on pleasing these folks, to misrepresent things, and act out a kabuki theater protrayal of misleading statistics.

  17. 17
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 13 – “Health Care Insurance has become a club that employers use to beat employees into submission. We have created a slavery system using Health Care Benefits as the whip.”

    Please dumb this down for me. I really want to try to understand what you are thinking. As it is, I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say. I ran a fairly large small business.. all I remember was trying to pay the least amount possible…. so please explain about the slavery and the whip thingy….

  18. 18
    Dave0 says:

    RE: Lo Ball Jones @ 12 – No need to go all the way to Wichita to find a 3-bedroom house at that price. You can find those in Aberdeen:

    RE: corndogs @ 17 – My interpretation of what he said is that the need for health care insurance causes employees to be stuck with their employers. Employees are having a hard time leaving their job (e.g. to start their own business or spend a few months unemployed to find a better job) because they need their employer’s health insurance. As a result, employer’s can pay lower wages because those employees are less likely to quit. If we had “a National Health Care Plan run by the government” it would stimulate the economy because people would be more likely to take the risk of starting own business, knowing that they didn’t need to worry about finding health insurance.

  19. 19
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Lo Ball Jones @ 12

    I wonder why the school ranking on that is a 1 across elementary, middle and high school? I think it’s hard to rank that low. I don’t think it goes to 0 or minus 0, so 1 is as low as you can go. I have always wondered how that can be possible. Seems we need a volunteer effort right here in the US of tutors or missionaries. How can those children never elevate through 12 years of school past a 1 ranking out of 10?

  20. 20
    Jonness says:

    By Dave0 @ 18:

    RE: Lo Ball Jones @ 12 – No need to go all the way to Wichita to find a 3-bedroom house at that price. You can find those in Aberdeen:

    Nice find! I could practically afford that with a burger flipping job. :)

  21. 21

    […] Our last update back in July showed construction job growth peaking at a little over 10% in January, then falling off to under 4% by June. Revised numbers from the Washington State Employment Security Department have construction doing significantly better through the first half of this year, but still peaking in July at 12% year-over-year growth and falling off dramatically to just 1.4% growth as of October. […]

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