Web software creator &yet of Richland has gone from a one-man operation in 2008 to employing 17 people.
It is among the Tri-City businesses contributing to a 2 percent growth in nonfarm jobs in January compared with the same month last year.
Founder Adam Brault said his staff has grown by more than 30 percent this year, with four new employees hired since January.
The Tri-Cities saw nonfarm employment leap to 101,000, a growth of 2,000 jobs compared with January 2011, according to data released Tuesday by the state Employment Security Department.
That 2 percent growth is more than many communities are seeing right now, said Mark Berreth, regional labor economist.
But while nonfarm jobs grew, Benton and Franklin counties saw the unemployment rate reach double digits for the first time since January 1996, reaching 10 percent in January. In December, the rate was 9.6 percent.
Benton County's unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, while Franklin County's reached 11.5 percent in January. That's above the state unemployment rate of8.9 percent.
The local January employment numbers were not released during February. The February data will be released later this month.
The total number of Tri-City jobs dropped to 116,750, about 3,000 fewer jobs when compared with January 2011.
However, the labor force has about 2,000 fewer people. Berreth said that could be affected by workers moving away or retiring.
Officials suspect some recently laid-off Hanford workers moved out of the area or retired.
About 13,030 people in Benton and Franklin counties are unemployed and actively searching for a job, about 1,000 more than a year earlier.
Berreth attributes some of the overall job losses to Hanford layoffs last year, an increase in unemployed agricultural workers and a possible decrease in self-employment.
Prior to January 1996, when the Tri-Cities last hit double digits, about 5,400 Hanford jobs were cut. And Berreth said a small recession began in 1996.
Agricultural employment has grown by almost 19 percent compared with January last year. There were about 11,330 agricultural workers in Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties in January, nearly 1,800 more than the same month in 2011, according to the monthly agricultural employment and wages report.
The numbers are reported by areas, not individual counties.
There have been a lot of farmers making investments, such as updating irrigation systems and expanding farm operations, said Stacy Gilmore, Franklin County Farm Bureau president. That may have caused some of the labor increase.
Some of the investments are happening now because prices for commodities are good, Gilmore said.
While agricultural employment has grown, Berreth said it's not enough to make up for the increase in agricultural workers on unemployment insurance. And more construction workers also have applied for unemployment benefits compared to last year.
But construction has actually grown to 7,200 jobs, up by about 1,100 jobs from January 2011.
Professional and business services saw a drop of about 500 jobs when compared to last year, to about 24,200 jobs. Some of the jobs at &yet likely fit into this category.
Part of &yet's success is being diverse in the types of services offered, Brault said. The company builds its own products, such as andbang.com, which acts like a shared to-do list with an integrated chat system. The Richland company writes software and now offers security assessments.
Most of the work the company does is for national and international clients, he said.
And software is in demand, Brault said.
"Every industry is becoming a software industry," he said.
Growth has caused &yet to need to expand its Gage Boulevard office. The company is taking over the space used by elevate, another growing technology business that provides technology consulting and technical support services for businesses. Elevate moves to 2527 N. Columbia Center Boulevard in Richland on April 1.
New jobs also were created after GreenSpace Recycling of Bend, Ore., expanded to the Tri-Cities in December.
Mickayla Pierce, who started the company with her husband Rick in 2008, said they have been able to hire a new employee to help her husband with recycling in the Tri-Cities. And they are looking for a second employee for the Tri-City area.
The company works at Tri-City apartment complexes six days a week. Pierce said it makes sure cardboard and recyclables gointo recycling bins, and in Kennewick, where city code allows it, it takes recyclables to a recycling yard.
Pierce said they've been successful so far. For example, on Monday they took 900 pounds of cardboard from eight Kennewick apartment complexes to the recycling yard.
They hope to expand to offer the same services to Tri-City businesses, Pierce said.
Pierce said they are able to make recycling convenient for their customers while diverting items that shouldn't be going to a landfill. And the service doesn't cost their clients any more than they are currently paying.
Areas that saw jobs increase compared to last year include leisure and hospitality, up 200 jobs to 9,100, retail trade with 700 more jobs at 11,900 and food services, with 400 more employees at 6,900.
At Tuscany Downtown in Prosser, co-owner Susanne Ayala said catering has been in demand, while the restaurant itself has seen business slow, which is typical during winter, she said.
But Ayala said she is hiring for two more positions to add to the current six. And at the peak of summer, it may have as many as12 employees.
Job listings with WorkSource Columbia Basin show a variety of positions open, from health care, construction and Hanford-related jobs to low skill and minimum wage positions, said Michelle Mann, area director. WorkSource Columbia Basin has about 200 job listings, which may include more than one positions.
The number of people looking for help finding a job at WorkSource Columbia Basin remains consistent, Mann said. They are seeing about 500 job seekers a month, many of whom come in daily.
"It's helpful when people treat looking for a job as a job," she said. Then, they are more likely to find something.
Mann said they have increased the number of workshops offered to help with resume writing, interviews and finding jobs.
WorkSource Columbia Basin is holding a job fair 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdayat 815 N. Kellogg St., in Kennewick. While the job fair is meant for veterans, it is open to anyone.
January unemployment rates for area counties are: Adams County, 12.2 percent; Columbia County, 12 percent; Grant County, 12.7 percent; Walla Walla County, 8.2 percent; and Yakima County, 12.1 percent.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org