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Washington Employment Estimates

Washington’s official data series for monthly estimates of nonfarm employment – overall and by industry. We use these data in our Monthly Employment Report to estimate job gains and losses. These data are benchmarked quarterly to provide the most accurate and current information possible on Washington’s economy and labor market.

This data series provides monthly estimates of nonfarm employment, by industry, in Washington state. Job gains and losses in our Monthly Employment Report come from this data series.

We provide these data as four spreadsheets:

Our Washington employment estimates are based on Current Employment Statistics (CES) data developed by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, our employment estimates for Washington industries are different from those in the CES data series.


How are these employment estimates different from CES employment estimates?

To develop our employment estimates for Washington industries, we replace CES survey data with data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). QCEW data are actual counts of employees, while CES data come from a survey of employers.

Each month, economists estimate monthly job gains and losses based on the survey of employers (CES). Then, at the end of each quarter, economists revise the estimates based on actual numbers from employer tax records (QCEW). The process that replaces employment estimates with the actual number of job gains or losses is called benchmarking. While we benchmark our data quarterly, the BLS benchmarks its data only once a year.

By benchmarking our data quarterly rather than annually, we can provide the most accurate and current information possible on Washington’s economy and labor market.


What is the data source of the report?

The basis of our industry employment estimates is CES.


How often are the estimates published?

Monthly. We publish preliminary and revised reports. Data are benchmarked each quarter.


What else should I know about these data?

These data are available seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted. Seasonally adjusted numbers account for normal seasonal patterns that occur year after year, such as retail-trade hiring around the holidays or students entering the labor force in the summer. Not seasonally adjusted numbers are raw or actual employment counts without seasonal patterns taken into account. Learn more about the BLS’ explanation of seasonality.


How can I use this information?

Employment estimates of Washington industries are used by the private and public sectors to:
  • Guide decisions on plant location, sales and purchases.

  • Compare businesses and the industry or economy.

  • Negotiate labor contracts based on industry or local earnings and hours.

  • Determine the employment base of states and areas for bond ratings.

  • Detect and plan for swings in the business cycle.

  • Evaluate the economic health of the state and its communities.

  • Guide monetary policy decisions.

  • Assess the growth of industries.

  • Forecast tax revenue for states and areas.

  • Measure employment, hours and earnings to determine economic growth.

For more information, call the Labor Market Information Center at 800-215-1617, or contact an economist.

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