By the end of the Great Recession, Washington’s average rate of unemployment was above 10%. It took nearly 18 months beyond the official end of the recession for the rate to begin dropping steadily. After stagnating through the middle months of 2013, the rate fell under 7% by July 2013, and to 6% by July 2014. In the summer of 2014 the labor force began growing faster than job growth could accommodate. This has resulted in a mostly stagnant unemployment rate since then, hovering between 5.6% and 5.8% throughout 2015, and leveling off at 5.8% during the beginning months of 2016.
These official unemployment numbers do not include the many discouraged people who are no longer actively looking for employment, and others who are working part time or in “make-do” jobs because of the scarcity of desirable jobs. Some of these individuals are captured in the underemployment rate, which reached 18.4% for Washingtonians in 2010. By 2014, the rate of underemployment dropped to 12.5%.