Tri-Cities economy shows stability, growth and expansion

By Ajsa Suljic, Regional Labor Economist
Tel: 509-734-5928 or email:


Local Area Monthly Summary: January 2016

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

Ajsa Suljic, Regional Labor Economist
Tel: 509-734-5928 or Email:

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) added 4,600 new nonfarm jobs, on a preliminary, not seasonally adjusted basis, from January 2015 to January 2016. The local unemployment rate, at 8.4 percent, increased from a December 2015 revised rate of 7.8 percent and decreased from a January 2015 revised rate of 9.0 percent by six-tenths of a percent each, respectively, according to the estimates by the federal Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS).

The Benton County unemployment rate was 7.7 percent, while the Franklin County unemployment rate was 10.1 percent in January 2016.

The state’s unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent, the same as revised employment rate for December 2015 and the same as one year ago in January 2015. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.9 percent for January 2016.

The labor force expanded in January for Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metro and across Washington state. The resident labor force rose from 127,714 people in January 2015 to nearly 131,621 in January 2016, which is a 3.1 percent increase over-the-year. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland MSA’s unemployed workforce increased to 10,994 in January 2016. The Employment Security Department paid unemployment insurance benefits to 4,842 unemployed residents in amount of $5.5 million.

The two-county area nonfarm employment has increased year-over-year for 34 consecutive months. January’s nonfarm growth was higher by 4.5 percent or 4,600 jobs when compared to the same time in 2015.

New job growth was driven by industries across the spectrum including: administrative and support services, food services, retail trade, private education and healthcare services, manufacturing, and financial activities.

When we look at the cluster of industries in trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities, we can see growth of 1,000 jobs over-the-year. However, the majority of that growth was coming from retail trade, which grew by 600 new jobs. Most of this growth reflects the continuous expansion of retail trade offerings throughout the many cities in this two county area.

Other industries that had job expansions over the year include:

  • Administrative and Support Services (800);
  • Food Services (600);
  • Government (600);
  • Manufacturing (400);
  • Private Education and Healthcare Services (400);
  • Accommodation Services (200);
  • Financial Services (200); and
  • Professional and Technical Services (100).

The construction industry job offerings were unchanged over-the-year in January 2016.

For more details you can call 509-734-5928 or email at



2015 Economic Symposium – Washington’s workforce needs: Economist and employer perspectives in today’s labor market


The eonomic symposium logoIn today’s labor market, data are more important than ever. Join the Labor Market & Performance Analysis Division of the Washington State Employment Security Department at the 2015 Olympia Economic Symposium on Oct. 29 to learn about the state of Washington’s labor market, occupational projections and more.

On the agenda:

  • A featured panel of employers will share perspectives on workforce needs.
  • State economists will reveal the gap in comparing real-time employer demand, occupational projections and the labor supply.
  • We’ll give a sneak peak of our new and improved website.


The event starts at 1 p.m. on the first floor auditorium of the Department of Social and Health Services OB2 Building on the capitol campus.

Register online by Oct. 28 to reserve your seat. Registration is free, but seating is limited. For more information, call 360-407-4541.

WorkSource Spokane adapts after the Great Recession

WorkSource Spokane staffing levels and office space are both stable after recent downsizing of both, said Journal of Business reporter Linn Parish in a July 16 story.

As the unemployment rate in Spokane County — currently at 6.3 percent — continues its decline after the Great Recession, the mix of customers also has changed in the last five years, Parish reported after an interview with WorkSource Spokane Administrator Michelle Sanchez.

“Sanchez says that in 2010, WorkSource Spokane assisted 27,000 job seekers and 6,000 potential employers. So far this year, the agency has helped about 5,000 people looking for work and 14,500 employers,” wrote Parish.

Read the entire story in the Spokane Journal of Business.

Labor area summary for Benton and Franklin counties – May 2015

By Ajsa Suljic, Employment Security’s labor economist covering Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin counties

Each month, the Employment Security Department releases statewide and county employment and unemployment data for the previous month. Find more labor-market data and analysis on the Employment Security website.

In the Kennewick-Pasco-Richland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which equals Benton and Franklin counties, May’s preliminary numbers show growth in nonfarm employment reached 107,200 jobs, up by 1.0 percent from April and up by 3.0 percent from the same time last year.

The unemployment rate was at 6.7, which is up from the revised 6.5 percent in April. The Benton County rate was 6.6 percent and the Franklin County rate was 7.2 percent.The major driver of the rate increase was growth in the labor force 1.9 percent, or 2,400 workers.  Monthly nonfarm job gains were recorded in many industries, including construction, transportation and utilities, educational and health services, leisure and hospitality, and state and local government.

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