Tri-City nonfarm jobs fell moderately in November, though there was a healthy gain of 3,100 jobs over the previous year, the Washington Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.
While the retail industry and local school districts largely added 500 jobs to the November nonfarm job count, food processing, construction, finance and hotels and motels took away as many positions during the same period, said Dean Schau, regional labor economist.
Last month, nonfarm jobs totaled 97,700, compared with 94,600 in November 2008.
The 3.28 percent annual increase in nonfarm jobs represents a steady growth trend in the Tri-Cities, he said. The annual comparison is a better way to assess changes in the local employment landscape, Schau said.
Consistent job growth doesn't mean there are jobs for everyone, Schau noted. That's why the unemployment rate in the Tri-Cities increased from 6 percent in October to 7.4 percent in November.
In November 2008, the local unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.
Federal money continues to fuel job growth, particularly at Hanford, Schau said. Employment at the vitrification plant rose from 2,819 in November 2008 to 3,214 last month. The administrative and support services sector grew from 9,600 jobs to 11,200 jobs in the same period.
Also, health services added 400 jobs over the year.
The monthly growth in retail hiring is seasonal, said Gary Ballew, business and economic development manager for the city of Richland. Last month, the retail sector employed about 11,400 people.
The decline of about 200 retail jobs, compared with November 2008 when the count was 11,600, has more to do with corporate cutbacks, Ballew said, with stores hiring fewer people and hiring them later. The local retail market has remained relatively stable, he said.
In Washington, which lost about 4,800 nonfarm jobs in November, the pace of job loss has slowed, said Dave Wallace, acting chief economist at the Washington Employment Security Department.
The state unemployment rate came down marginally, from 9.3 percent in October to 9.2 percent in November.
w Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi@ tricityherald.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com