Richland, West Richland rank high in best Washington cities for young adult job seekers

Being home to Hanford, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and a regional medical care hub helps make the Tri-Cities a hopping place for young adult job seekers, according to financial website Nerd Wallet.

Richland is the second-best Washington city for millennial job seekers and West Richland came in at eighth, according to a study released Monday.

Kennewick, Pasco and Walla Walla all made the top 20.

Those rankings are based on unemployment rates, average wages, median rents and millennial population growth and how much of the city population is comprised of young adults. Millennial is a term used for those born after 1980 who came into adulthood in the 2000s.

Four of the largest Tri-City employers are within the professional and business services field. That includes Battelle, which manages and operates PNNL; Bechtel National, the designer and builder for the vitrification plant; Mission Support Alliance, which provides services to Hanford; and tank farm contractor Washington River Protection Solutions.

The other employers in the top 10 include the Kennewick, Pasco and Richland school districts, Kadlec Regional Medical Center and food processors ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston and Tyson Foods, according to the Tri-City Development Council.

The top two industries employing Richland and West Richland residents are professional and business services and educational and health care services, said Ajsa Suljic, regional labor economist for Benton and Franklin counties.

The Tri-Cities and West Richland tend to share workers. West Richland is a bedroom community, with about 80 percent of its residents working outside of the city, Suljic said.

But the rest of the cities share too. About 55 percent of Richland residents, 70 percent of Kennewick residents and 73 percent of Pasco residents work outside of the city where they live, she said.

West Richland stands out in part because of how much its millennial population has grown over the last several years, the most of any state city that made the top 20 list. About 2,000 of West Richland’s 13,100 residents were young adults in 2013, up by 43 percent from 2000.

West Richland Mayor Brent Gerry said the community has been attracting young adults working in professional fields, such as with Hanford and PNNL. It is close to shopping and other amenities at Richland’s Queensgate area and has easy freeway access, making commutes to work to Hanford and other areas relatively smooth.

“They look for safe, clean, quiet, comfortable, warm, fuzzy neighborhoods and we offer all of that out here in West Richland,” he said.

West Richland has the highest median income in the Tri-City region, with half of its working residents making more than $82,700, and half making less, according to city documents.

Tri-City area rankings on the top 20 list included Kennewick at 14th, Pasco at 19th and Walla Walla at 20th.