Added jobs in construction, manufacturing, health care and education helped the Tri-Cities the 16th consecutive month of year-over-year job growth in July.
Overall, about 125,100 Tri-Citians were employed last month, up by nearly 4,700 workers from the same time last year, according to data released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department.
The Tri-City unemployment rate remained relatively unchanged at 5.7 percent. June’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.
Extra workers who came to the area to help hand pick cherries in June temporarily spiked the area’s total employment and workforce, said Ajsa Suljic, regional labor economist for Benton and Franklin counties.
Apple harvest started earlier this month, but it doesn’t bring as many temporary jobs as cherry harvest does, she said.
Apple farmers are expecting a record harvest this year thanks to newer, denser orchards coming to maturity.
The Tri-Cities remained just above the state unemployment rate of 5.4 percent. Benton County’s rate was 5.6 percent, while Franklin County’s was 5.8 percent.
What that means is that 7,500 Tri-Citians were out of work and actively job hunting, about 3,100 fewer than the same time last year.
Nonfarm industries have added 3,900 jobs compared to July of last year, reaching 106,100 jobs last month, according to the data.
Retail trade contributed 1,400 of those jobs. Suljic said some of the jobs are from new retailers in the last year and existing retailers also have expanded.
Retail can be a volatile industry, depending on consumer spending. Suljic said families have shown more confidence in school shopping for their children this year, buying more than just the basics.
Construction has had an impressive rebound after the slowdown the area saw in 2011 and early 2012, Suljic said. The industry is up by 600 jobs from July of last year.
The growing population and businesses has led to a demand for commercial and residential construction, she said. So far, jobs are up by 9.4 percent from last year.
Manufacturing also has seen continued growth, with most in food manufacturing. The industry added 700 jobs compared to July 2013.
Hospitality and food service businesses also gained jobs, up by 500 from the same month last year.
Not as many job seekers have been seeking help at Kennewick’s WorkSource Columbia Basin so far this month. Jack Fitzgerald, administrator for the office, said that’s normal for this time of year with last-minute summer vacations and school approaching.
Nearly 1,400 job opportunities in Benton and Franklin counties are listed on the agency’s website, Fitzgerald said. That’s down slightly from last month.
Most are for full-time work. The most jobs are available in sales, office and administrative support, transportation, health care practitioners, technical and support positions, architecture and engineering and installation, maintenance and repair, he said.
An agricultural hiring event for multiple positions will be held 9 a.m. Friday8-22 at the Kennewick office. Washington State Patrol also plan a hiring event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 29.
Those interested in events and workshops can go to Go2WorkSource.com for more information and the full calendar for the Kennewick office.
July unemployment rates for area counties were: Adams County, 6.1 percent; Columbia County, 7.1 percent; Grant County, 5.6 percent; Walla Walla County, 4.9 percent and Yakima County, 5.8 percent.