The Mid-Columbia’s bountiful harvest has helped manufacturing achieve a 13 percent year-over-year job growth in October.
Gains in manufacturing and other nonfarm industries meant the Tri-Cities reached its 19th consecutive month of year-over-year growth.
About 125,100 Tri-Citians were employed last month, up by about 3,700 jobs, according to data released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department.
The Tri-City October unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, higher than September because some seasonal farm jobs ended and more people started hunting for jobs.
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The labor force gain was better than normal for October, said Ajsa Suljic, regional labor economist for Benton and Franklin counties. The local labor force climbed to about 134,000 workers, more than 1,200 up from September and about 3,000 more Tri-Citians than the same month last year.
That means about 8,900 Tri-Citians were out of work and actively job hunting last month, down by about 650 people form the same time last year.
The Tri-Cities remained above the state unemployment rate of 5.8 percent. Benton County’s rate was 6.5 percent, while Franklin County’s was 7 percent.
Manufacturing saw a significant increase, hitting 9,600 jobs in October, up by 1,100 jobs from the same month last year.
Overall nonfarm employment reached 108,500 in October, a 900-job gain from last month and a 4,900-job gain from the same month last year. Other industries that saw year-over-year job increases included education, health care, retail trade and hospitality.
Retail trade likely will have more jobs added in November because October’s numbers do not include the workers hired for Richland’s new Marshalls, which opened Oct. 23. That’s too late in the month to appear until the next month’s statistics.
And retailers tend to hire on for the holidays in early November, Suljic said.
October was the first time professional and business services have seen year-over-year growth since the Tri-Cities lost about 4,000 jobs from Hanford layoffs in 2011 and 2012, Suljic said. The industry, which includes Hanford jobs, is up by 900 jobs compared to the same month last year.
The Tri-Cities saw no losses in that industry last year, and some Hanford contractors have hired on more workers for specific projects, Suljic said.
However, the Tri-Cities would need to see another 2,000 jobs in that specific industry for it to reach where it was at before Hanford layoffs, she said.
Tri-City job openings are slightly down compared to last month, at about 1,300 job openings listed through WorkSource’s website. Most are for full-time work, with top fields including health care practitioner, technical and support jobs, architecture and engineering, sales and related occupations, transportation and office and administrative support jobs.
WorkSource Columbia Basin has seen more job seekers visit the Kennewick office this month as seasonal farm work wound down, said Jack Fitzgerald, administrator for the office. Now is a good time to use WorkSource’s service for training and job seeking skills.
Job skill classes
December classes available at the Kennewick office include basic computer skills, résumés and cover letters, perfecting applications, interviewing techniques, skills and abilities analysis, job search strategies and changing careers. Classes are offered in English and Spanish. For the schedule, go to Go2WorkSource.com website and click on the link to calendars of workshops and events.
Veterans can get help on how to write their résumés for Hanford and the private sector 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Kennewick office. Also, the office has a veterans access workshop 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays so veterans can receive help from veterans service representatives.
October unemployment rates for area counties: Adams County, 5.6 percent; Columbia County, 9 percent; Grant County, 6.3 percent; Walla Walla County, 5.3 percent and Yakima County, 6.6 percent.