The unemployment rate rose in Benton and Franklin counties during November, but a regional economist sees some hope in the form of job gains in retail, warehousing and local government.
Ajsa Suljic, regional labor economist, said most of the net 1,500 nonfarm jobs lost from October to November this year were from Hanford layoffs and seasonal jobs ending as the region moves toward winter.
The collective unemployment rate in the two counties jumped from 7.6 percent in October to 8.4 percent in November.
The state on average saw movement in the opposite direction, with the statewide unemployment rate dropping from 9 percent to 8.7 percent, closely mirroring the national numbers for the month which showed a dip from 9 percent to 8.6 percent unemployment.
Benton County's unemployment rate rose from 7.7 percent to 8.2 percent -- still below the state average -- while Franklin County's rose from 7.4 percent to 8.9 percent.
A total of 7,554 workers collected $9.5 million in state and federal unemployment benefits in November, while 1,057 had exhausted their benefits. Almost 3,400 workers filed new applications for benefits, Suljic's report said.
Of those collecting unemployment, 22 percent had worked in construction, 9.6 percent had worked in agriculture and 11 percent had worked in production jobs, the report said.
Despite the jobs lost, Suljic said she is not seeing ripples from Hanford layoffs in other sectors of the local economy.
With the holidays coming, 300 more people were employed in the local retail trade in November than in October, and Suljic's report shows 200 more retail jobs in November 2011 than the same month in 2010.
Local government employment grew by 100 jobs in November and was up by 400 compared to a year ago, but Suljic wasn't certain what's driving that growth or whether it might represent some kind of seasonal government employment.
Another job growth area in the two counties was in trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities, where Benton and Franklin counties added 600 jobs during November, and 1,000 jobs compared to last November.
"That's signaling good signs for growth," Suljic said.
And while construction and manufacturing lost seasonal jobs from October to November, both sectors showed growth compared to November 2010. The construction industry showed a net gain of 400 jobs year-to-year and manufacturing grew by 200 jobs in the same period.
The education/health services and leisure/hospitality sectors also showed short-term losses or stability, but longer term gains.
Education and health services lost 100 jobs from October to November, but gained 400 compared to the previous November.
No jobs were gained or lost in leisure and hospitality from October to November, but the field overall gained 300 jobs year to year, Suljic's report shows.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; email@example.com