Yakima Co. unemployment rate continues to rise - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Co. unemployment rate continues to rise

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- Dozens of business leaders packed into the Red Lion Hotel Monday for the Yakima County Economy 2011 Review" event.

Regional labor economist Don Meseck was the featured speaker at the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Meseck discussed the county's unemployment rate, sharing some good news and bad news. He says the good news is the number of non-farm jobs are up, with about 300 new jobs in 2011.

However, the bad news Meseck says is the civilian labor force numbers have dropped by about 4,000 in the last year, from about 127,000 jobs to just under 123,000 jobs.

"It's kind of a mixed bag in a nutshell. Non-farm and ag. Employment are both up over the year in 2011, but civilian work force is diminishing," said Meseck. He explained the decline is because of "disgruntled workers" and the "baby boomers" retiring early.

According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, the top five industries in 2010, in terms of employment for Yakima County, are agriculture, local government, health services, retail trade and manufacturing. Agriculture led the group with 23,846 people who were hired; followed by local government with 13,011 jobs; health services was next with 13,002 jobs; retail trade had 9,847 jobs, and manufacturing showed 7,470 jobs.

Manufacturing, retail, professional and business services, and food services hired workers in 2011. The data also showed construction, health services, federal government, and local government averaged fewer jobs in 2011 than in 2010 for Yakima County.

The county's unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in 2010 to 9.9 percent in 2011, according to the Employment Security Department. Meseck says Yakima County's unemployment rate is up for the fourth year in a row. He says the county could  bounce back, but added that it would be a slow recovery.