(The Center Square) – After a dip in July, Washington state’s economy gained an estimated 2,900 non-farm jobs in August, the state's Employment Security Department reported Wednesday.

Updated figures showed the state losing 6,300 jobs in July after a reported gain of 13,100 jobs in June. At the time, ESD state economist Paul Turek said there were overall signs of a cooling labor market when the July numbers were coupled with downward job totals from the first quarter of 2023.

"Job growth resumed in August after declining in July,” Turek said Wednesday in a monthly report. But, he added, “the modest increase continues the pattern of job growth moving at a far cooler pace than the substantial job gains of the past two years.”

Nonetheless, the state’s seasonally adjustment employment rate in August was 3.6%, lower than the national rate of 3.8%. The unemployment rate was even lower – an estimated 3.2% – in the populated Puget Sound areas of Seattle, Bellevue and Everett.

However, unemployment figures varied among Washington’s 39 counties with jobless rates running higher in rural areas. In July, Ferry County had the highest unemployment rate at 6%, followed at 5.2% in Wahkiakum County, 4.7% in Pacific County, 4.6% in Grays Harbor County, 4.3% in Mason and Pend Oreille counties, 4.2% in Kittitas County, and 4.1% in Clallam, Lewis and Stevens counties.

Numbers are based on preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and subject to future revision when more data becomes available.

ESD paid unemployment benefits to 56,935 people in August, an increase of 1,763 paid claims compared to July. In particular, there were more paid claims within the agriculture and health-and-social assistance sectors, the agency said.

The state’s labor force in August was estimated at 4,067,300. Labor force is defined as the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Overall, Washington saw seven industry sectors expand and six contract last month with the private sector seeing the most growth. ESD cited these key increases and decreases:

Manufacturing employment rose by 2,800, led by 500 jobs gained in transportation equipment manufacturing.Jobs in leisure and hospitality increased by 1,300, with 600 jobs gained in arts, entertainment, and recreation.Employment in other services increased by 1,100 overall, with 700 jobs added in personal and laundry services.Retail trade employment decreased by 1,000 overall, with 1,600 jobs lost in other trade.Professional and business services employment decreased by 2,700, with 2,400 jobs lost in employment services.

From August 2022 to last month, Washington has seen an estimated employment increase of 55,200. Again, the private sector saw the most job gains at 46,600 while the public sector grew an estimated 8,600 job during the past year, according to Employment Security.

Industry sectors showing the largest employment gains year over year, not seasonally adjusted, are: education and health services, up 22,400 jobs; leisure and hospitality, up 18,700 jobs; and government, up 8,600 jobs.

In contrast, industry sectors with the biggest employment losses year over year, not seasonally adjusted, were: information, down 8,900 jobs; professional and business services, down 6,400 jobs; and retail trade, down 3,200 jobs.

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