U.S., Washington and Seattle unemployment rates, seasonally adjusted
January 2009 through January 2014

The “Great Recession” is now in the history books. Washington state has officially climbed out of the hole created by the last economic downturn, with the state’s Employment Security Department announcing this week that Washington now has created more jobs in the past few years than it lost during that tough period.

A sign outside of Amazon's HQ in Seattle. Photo via Matt Shobe.
A sign outside of Amazon’s HQ in Seattle. Photo via Matt Shobe.

Net job growth from February 2010 to January 2014 came in at 193,000 jobs — surpassing the recession losses. (The Employment Security Department issued a revised job loss figure of 189,000 for the recession, noting that the losses were not as high as originally reported).

“The new data indicate that our economy is stronger, and has been stronger, than our monthly surveys have shown,” said Paul Turek, an Employment Security labor economist.

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent for January, the lowest since the fall of 2008. In Seattle, the jobless rate fell to 5.2 percent.

Of course, a red-hot technology industry has helped. Take, for instance, Zulily. The fast-growing online retailer was founded by Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon in 2009 — amid the recession. It now has 1,110 employees. Tableau, the data visualization software maker, recently topped 1,200 employees and said it plans to take over a gym in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood in order to accommodate growth.

Both companies, which completed IPOs last year, said they plan to aggressively hire in 2014.

amazon-employee333Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to grow at a furious pace in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, and is expanding its presence in the Denny Triangle area to accommodate an insane growth rate. It now has more than 117,000 employees worldwide, though many of those workers staff the company’s massive fulfillment centers.

Amazon’s growth is helping to fuel a boom in downtown Seattle, perhaps one of the reasons why the construction industry was the top gainer in terms of employment growth in January.

In total, the state gained 3,800 jobs in January. The information category, where a number of tech jobs get classified, saw gains of 800 jobs in January.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • csob

    This is great news, but I have to disagree with the title of this post. “Tech industry helps Washington state reclaim jobs lost during ‘great recession’.” I would suggest that the tech industry has created new jobs, and increased the overall job count, but it hasn’t reclaimed lost jobs. Lots of people just stopped looking for work. Their jobs have either disappeared or been given to someone else.

    • johnhcook

      Thanks for the comment. The way I was looking at it: Jobs were lost during the recession, creating a hole.

      Over the past several years, that hole has been filled with new jobs, many being generated from the tech industry. I didn’t mean to imply that the exact type of jobs that were lost were reclaimed, instead speaking more in the abstract.

      You are right. Many specific jobs that were lost are gone, possibly forever, and will never be reclaimed. It seems that’s how the economy works — old industries die out, and new ones emerge, filling the gaps.

      • csob

        Agreed. The numbers look good here in WA when viewed in the abstract, but lots of real people are hurting in very real ways.

Job Listings on GeekWork