<HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>96 Economist Sees Growth in Tri-City Agricultural, Non-farm Jobs, Pratik Joshi, Tri-City Herald</TITLE> </HEAD> <body bgcolor="FFFFFF" text="000000" link="0000FF" vlink="FF0000" alink="0000FF"> <basefont face="Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000033"> <TABLE border="0" width="100%" cellspacing="0"> <TR align="left" valign="top"> <td><small> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/thefilm.htm">the film</A><br> <A href="forum.htm">forum</A><br> <A href="library.htm">library</A><br> <A href="tutorial.htm">tutorial</A><br> <A href="contact.htm">contact</A> </small></td> <TD> <A href="economic.htm"><img src="images/economic.gif" border="0" width="110" height="110" align="center" alt="Economic and dam related articles"></a> <TD> <CENTER><FONT FACE="Arial, Helvetica" COLOR="0000FF"> <strong><BIG><H2 align="center">Economist Sees Growth in Tri-City
Agricultural, Non-farm Jobs</H2> </BIG></STRONG></FONT><FONT COLOR="FF0000">by Pratik Joshi, Herald staff writer <BR>Tri-City Herald, July 18, 2007</FONT></CENTER> </TABLE> <HR> <P align="left"> Nina Pyle ran a spot on a local radio station earlier this week to find job hunters.

Pyle, office manager at Atkinson Staffing in Pasco, needs to fill about 250 positions at a food processing plant in Hermiston. "There's a lot of work out there," she said, adding it's often difficult to find people looking for work.

That's not surprising because the Tri-City economy is doing well, the state's regional economist reported Tuesday.

The Tri-Cities added 2,500 new nonfarm jobs in the last 12 months, said Dean Schau of the state Department Employment Security. Of those, 652 were at Hanford's vitrification plant, a massive facility that will treat high-level radioactive waste.

Highway construction and a prison project in Connell also contributed to the area's job growth, he said.

In June, agriculture, food processing, retail sector, banking, insurance and financial services helped provide 6,800 new jobs in area.

Farm employment improved from 11,800 in May to 18,000 in June because of better availability of water and better crops since Eastern Washington came out of a drought less than two years ago, Schau said.

The Tri-Cities' labor force grew at the rate of 2.8 percent a year compared with the state's rate of 1.8 percent a year, Schau added.

Increasing diversification away from a Hanford economy has helped the Tri-Cities consistently outperform the state's average job growth, Schau said.

But the economic boom also is creating a shortage of skilled workers, said Candice Bluechel, business service manager at WorkSource Columbia Basin.

The Tri-Cities' unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, like that of the state, still is at a record low. The number of people unemployed in Benton and Franklin counties stood at about 5,500 last month compared with 6,800 in June 2006.

Though the average number of job seekers at WorkSource hasn't dropped much, fewer people show up at job fairs, Bluechel said. Employers in the food processing industry are worried about the shrinking pool of applicants, she added.

The Tri-Cities' food processing sector makes up about 10 percent of the state's total food processing industry, Schau said.

It's been difficult to find qualified candidates for warehouse jobs, some of which require certification to operate a forklift, Bluechel said. Also, many commercial driving jobs have remained unfilled due to a lack of suitable applicants, she said.

Schau said the population growth in Benton and Franklin counties is "pushing up the economy." The recent population growth has helped create jobs in schools and local government, he said. Also, many out of state people with discretionary incomes are moving to the area.

Tri-City retail stores and restaurants also attract shoppers from other counties which helps to make the local economy vibrant, Schau said. That explains growth in the retail sector, which added 300 jobs since June 2006.

In the last six months, several new restaurants have opened in the Tri-Cities, especially near Road 68 in Pasco, Bluechel said. Restaurant owners have been trying to hire cooks and wait staff since the summer tourism season kicked in, she said.

The manufacturing sector has held steady in terms of job creation, Schau said.

In Washington, manufacturing, with the exception of aerospace, weakened but growth in telecommunications, software publishing and professional services helped add 3,300 nonfarm jobs in June, said Evelina Tainer, chief economist for the state Department of Employment Security.

The economic outlook for the rest of the year is tough to predict, Schau said. But the prices of corn will have an effect on the market in the Tri-Cities and the state, he said.

Unemployment rates, not seasonally adjusted, in metropolitan areas around the state: Bellingham, 4 percent; Bremerton, 4.4; Longview, 5.7; Mount Vernon-Anacortes, 4.4; Olympia, 4.2; Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, 4.1; Spokane, 4.3; Tacoma, 4.6; Wenatchee, 3.7; and Yakima, 4.9.

These labor market areas also reported: Aberdeen, 6.2 percent; Centralia, 6.2; Ellensburg, 4.2; Moses Lake, 4.5; Oak Harbor, 4.7; Port Angeles, 5.2; Pullman, 4.3; Shelton, 5.3; and Walla Walla, 4.5.

Unemployment rates in these counties were: Adams, 4.2 percent; Asotin, 4.2; Chelan, 3.8; Clark, 5.4; Columbia, 6.3; Douglas, 3.7; Ferry, 6.7; Garfield, 4.4; Jefferson, 4.4; King, 4; Klickitat, 5.5; Lincoln, 4.4; Okanogan, 5; Pacific, 5.8; Pend Oreille, 5.9; San Juan, 3; Skamania, 5.5; Snohomish, 4.3; Stevens, 6; and Wahkiakum, 5.3.

<HR> <strong>Pratik Joshi</strong><br> <A href="http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/opinions/story/9143182p-9059711c.html"> <I>Economist Sees Growth in Tri-City Agricultural, Non-farm Jobs</I></a><BR> <strong>Tri-City Herald</STRONG>, July 18, 2007 <HR> <P align="center"><CENTER> <BIG><strong>See what you can learn</STRONG></BIG><P> <A href="topic.htm">learn more on topics covered in the film</A><BR> <A href="https://sgi25.netservers.net/bluefish.org/video.htm">see the video</A><BR> <A href="script.htm">read the script</A><BR> <A href="songs.htm">learn the songs</A><BR> <A href="forum.htm">discussion forum</A><BR> <IMG src="salmon_swimming_md_wht.gif" width=150 height=70 alt="salmon animation"> </CENTER> </basefont> </body> </HTML>