Growth in nonfarm industry jobs and declining unemployment rates continue for Yakima County, according to data released Friday, June 3, by state officials.
April job numbers were not only better than a year ago, but also better than April 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the economy, said Don Meseck, regional labor economist with the state’s Employment Security Department.
Meseck noted the number of residents in Yakima County’s labor force in April was 131,276, which was 1.1% greater than the 129,870 people in the labor force three years ago.
“It’s an indication that Yakima County’s labor market is recovering to pre-COVID levels,” Meseck said.
There were 127,356 residents in the labor force in April 2021, meaning this year’s numbers were 3.1% greater than 12 months ago.
Nonfarm employment in Yakima County increased 4.5% over the past year, rising from 84,200 jobs in April 2021 to 88,000 this April, the most recent month for which statistics are available. The 2022 figure also was 1,100 jobs and 1.3% above the 86,900 nonfarm jobs in April 2019, Meseck said.
Retail trade employment has led the way, increasing for 21 consecutive months (from August 2020 through April 2022) on a year-to-year basis, Meseck said. The latest data indicates there were 11,300 retail trade jobs in Yakima County in April, compared to 11,100 in April 2021, a 1.8% increase.
Meseck noted that employment in hotels, eating and drinking establishments, and amusement and recreation services appears to be approaching pre-pandemic levels. In fact, April’s 8,500 leisure and hospitality jobs in Yakima County was 200 jobs, or 2.4%, greater than the 8,300 leisure and hospitality jobs in April 2019.
These additional jobs have caused unemployment rates to fall over the same time period.
Year over year, monthly jobless rates have fallen in each of the 13 months from April 2021 through April 2022, Meseck said. This April, Yakima County’s 6.2% unemployment rate was 1.2 percentage points less than the 7.4% reading in April 2021.
The state’s highest unemployment rate in April was northeast Washington’s Ferry County, at 8.2%, while King County had the lowest, at 1.9%.
For a complete monthly economic report for Washington state, visit https://bit.ly/3No44qe.