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Tri-City jobs are opening faster than companies can find workers to fill them

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Do your research. Take a look at the company's website. Practice with friends and family. These simple guidelines and more are outlined in this Department of Labor video on job interviewing strategies.
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Do your research. Take a look at the company's website. Practice with friends and family. These simple guidelines and more are outlined in this Department of Labor video on job interviewing strategies.

The Tri-Cities posted its best October ever for employment, with just 4.4 percent of workers looking for jobs last month.

That’s down from 4.7 percent a year ago and 5.6 percent in 2016.

The local unemployment rate ticked up slightly from September, when it hit an all-time low of 4 percent.

Despite the bump, figures released Tuesday by the Washington Employment Security Department confirm the Mid-Columbia is adding jobs faster than it is adding job-seekers, keeping the jobless rate below 5 percent since June.

“We are still following the low wave,” said Ajsa Suljic, a state regional labor economist.

The local economy grew to 135,170 jobs in October. That’s 3,171 more jobs in the Tri-Cities than a year ago or a 1.75 percent increase.

Nonfarm job growth was even more striking. There were 117,400 jobs in October, up 3,700 jobs or 3.2 percent more than a year ago.

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Carly Migas and Christie Hayes check inventory and prepare for Small Business Saturday at Runners Soul in Kennewick. The shopping event on the Saturday after Thanksgiving comes during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year to support locally owned businesses. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

There were 6,284 people were actively looking for work in October, 317 fewer than the same month last year and 1,251 fewer than two years ago.

“People who are entering the workforce are finding the jobs,” Suljic said.

Tri-City employment typically falls off in October as construction and outdoor enterprises taper off for the cold months. Unemployment peaks at mid-winter, though it is mitigated by holiday staffing by retailers.

October employment was driven by an increase of 1,200 positions in government, mostly education-related jobs associated with the start of the school year.

Suljic said that may have included carryover from September when school actually began.

Construction is once again a major performer for the region, employing 8,700 people in October, 600 more than a year ago.

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Construction is once again a major performer for the region, employing 8,700 Tri-Citians in October, 600 more than a year ago. These workers are building Richland School District’s new elementary school in West Richland. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald


Manufacturing rose by 300 to 8,700 and the hospitality sector employed 12,000, 800 more than a year ago.

“I see all industries except professional services adding jobs,” Suljic said. “Those are big numbers.”

The Mid-Columbia continues to be one of the most lucrative markets for job holders, thanks to high wages associated with the Hanford site.

With an average hourly wage of $36.70 in October, the Tri-Cities was second to Seattle, where the average hourly wage in October was $39.05.

Tri-City workers worked an average of 37.9 hours and posted average weekly earnings of $1,042, according to state figures.

In Seattle, October pay averaged $1,378 for a 36.2-hour week.

Statewide, the average unemployment rate was 4 percent and the average hourly wage was $33.13.

Around the state: Bellingham (4.2 percent, $27.30), Bremerton (4.3 percent, $24.80), Longview (5.2 percent, $29.09), Mount Vernon (4.7 percent, $28.65), Olympia/Thurston County, (4.2 percent, $26.80), Spokane/Spokane Valley (4.5 percent, $26.51), Walla Walla (3.9 percent, $26.23), Wenatchee (3.8 percent, $20.97), Yakima (4.7 percent, $22.18)

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514
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