But the drop was not because of job growth. It’s largely because job seekers have stopped looking for work, something the state has experienced the past several months, Employment Security chief labor economist Joe Elling said Wednesday.
The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the labor force that’s unemployed and actively looking for work. People who quit looking for work are not counted as part of the labor force when the unemployment rate is calculated.
Elling said the state’s total labor force fell by 0.2 percent in the November-December period and was down 0.8 percent from December a year ago.
The state also shed jobs in the November-December period, losing 7,900 — 3,200 in the private sector and 4,700 in government. That number will be revised later — either up or down — because fewer businesses than usual statewide participated in a survey to help compile the joblessness data, Elling said.
Participation likely was down because of the holidays, he said.
Although the state shed jobs overall, construction was a bright spot, creating 3,100 jobs in the November-December period. That gain was due to the demand for multifamily housing, mostly in King and Snohomish counties, Elling said.
Thurston County’s December jobless data, which is not seasonally adjusted, will be released Jan. 23. In November, the county’s jobless rate was 6.9 percent, compared with 7.5 percent in November 2011.