Job openings in the state increased for the first time in nearly three years, according to a recent state survey.
The spring survey, conducted twice a year by the Washington Employment Security Department, showed a 21 percent increase in job openings since the last survey in fall.
An estimated 38,732 vacancies were identified, compared with 32,037 in fall and 32,635 in last spring.
Vacancies were highest in health care, retail and accommodation and food services. The majority of potential positions offered less than $10 an hour.
Benton and Franklin counties showed an estimated 1,236 job vacancies, or about 3 percent of the total vacancies in the state. The number of estimated vacancies in the bicounty area increased marginally from an estimated 1,222 vacancies in fall.
The bulk of the openings were in office and administrative support, food preparation and serving, sales and health care, said Nora Keith, an economic analyst with the state Employment Security Department. The survey is a useful tool for those looking for jobs and for policy makers, she said.
Of the estimated 166 vacancies in office and administrative support, 70 percent were full time, 97 percent permanent and 18 percent were newly created, Keith said. New jobs are generally created when a company expands, she said.
All of the estimated 126 job openings in sales were reported to be permanent and about 66 percent of them were full time. The food preparation and serving occupations had about 131 openings, all of them permanent, but only 30 percent were full time.
Survey respondents didn't specify wages for more than 500 potential jobs in the Tri-City area. About 30 job openings offered $30 and up an hour and 309 positions had a wage range of $8.55 to $9.99 an hour.
An estimated 79 jobs were in the $15 to $19.99 an hour range and about 32 jobs were in the $20 to $24.99 an hour range.
The survey saw a strong correlation between level of education and wages. The median wage rose with each increase in the level of education, peaking at $29.41 per hour for openings requiring a graduate degree.
On Monday, 267 job openings in Benton County and 92 in Franklin County were available, said Candice Bluechel, business services outreach manager at WorkSource Columbia Basin in Kennewick. WorkSource is a state-funded agency that helps businesses find workers and helps the unemployed get short-term training.
Employers are looking to hire, among others, caregivers and registered nurses, truck drivers, forklift drivers and restaurant staff.
"We aren't back to normal but moving in the right direction," Bluechel said.
-- On the net: workforceexplorer.com