Tri-Cities ranked on the rise

Tri-City HeraldJune 19, 2014 

— The Tri-Cities really did ride out the recent recession better than most Washington cities.

Richland, Pasco and Kennewick were among the top cities in the state based on gains in jobs, income and population from 2009-12, according to a recent analysis by financial website NerdWallet.

Richland was the top city among the 53 Washington cities included in the ranking.

Despite employment levels remaining about the same between 2009-12, the median income for Richland residents rose by 14.3 percent during those years, according to the analysis. And the number of working-age residents grew by 9.9 percent.

Pasco ranked No. 11, thanks to its working-age population, climbing by 15.6 percent during those years. Employment actually dropped by 4.3 percent, but median income grew by almost 10 percent.

Kennewick ranked 16th, with a 15 percent gain in the working-age population. Employment also declined by 3.2 percent during those years, with median income rising by 2 percent.

Overall, Washington is on an upswing in jobs, population and income, according to NerdWallet.

The state’s per capita personal income ranked 13th nationwide last year. State economists also expect Washington jobs to grow an average of 1.8 percent each year through 2017.

Most of Washington’s cities saw employment stay static or decline from 2009-12, with only five seeing a gain of 1 percent or more, according to NerdWallet. The Tri-Cities were among the only 14 Washington cities that saw median income levels improve.

Federal stimulus dollars during the recession helped bolster the Tri-City economy, with Hanford receiving $1.96 billion in about 30 months. Then, about 4,000 jobs were lost because of Hanford layoffs in 2011 and 2012.

Since then, the Tri-City job outlook has improved, with the area ending 2013 with jobs up about 1 percent, better than the previous year when the Tri-Cities saw a 1.4 percent loss mainly from Hanford layoffs, Ajsa Suljic, regional labor economist for Benton and Franklin counties, recently said.

The Tri-Cities has experienced continued signs of recovery, with its 13th consecutive month of job growth in April.

Benton and Franklin counties gained about 1,500 nonfarm jobs during April compared with the same month last year, reaching a total of 102,600 nonfarm jobs.

Seasonal increases in construction, retail and farm work helped push the Tri-City unemployment rate down to 6.9 percent -- the lowest April unemployment rate that the Tri-Cities has seen since 2008.

May job numbers for Benton and Franklin counties are to be released next week.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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