Unemployment rates

Washington and U.S.

Year Washington U.S.
2016 5.4% 4.9%
2015 5.6% 5.3%
2014 6.1% 6.2%
2013 7.0% 7.4%
2012 8.1% 8.1%
2011 9.2% 8.9%
2010 9.9% 9.6%
2009 9.2% 9.3%
2008 5.5% 5.8%
2007 4.5% 4.6%
2006 5.0% 4.6%
2005 5.5% 5.1%
2004 6.2% 5.5%
2003 7.4% 6.0%
2002 7.4% 5.8%
2001 6.3% 4.7%
2000 5.2% 4.0%
1999 4.9% 4.2%
1998 4.8% 4.5%
1997 4.9% 4.9%
1996 6.0% 5.4%
1995 6.4% 5.6%
1994 6.5% 6.1%
1993 7.3% 6.9%
1992 7.3% 7.5%
1991 6.4% 6.8%
1990 5.3% 5.6%

1970-2016

  • Historically, the unemployment rate in Washington has been higher than the U.S. average, due primarily to a relatively high share of resource-based industries in the state which have more volatile seasonal employment patterns.
  • Change in Washington unemployment rates has tracked closely with the U.S. trend, but the difference between the state and the U.S. rates usually widens during the economic downturns.
  • The 2000-2003 run-up in jobless rates was a result of the bursting of the Dot-Com bubble in conjunction with the 9/11 recession; this had a more pronounced impact on the Seattle area because of the localized concentration of Dot-Com start-ups and aerospace employment.
  • The most jump in unemployment rates was related to the breaking of the housing market/equities/commodities bubble which hit Washington and the nation with similar force.
  • U.S. and Washington unemployment rates tracked more closely this last recession than they had historically.

Data source:

Last modified: August 16, 2017
E-mail: OFM.Forecasting@ofm.wa.gov