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Yakima Facing Job Losses

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- A new report is out showing Yakima with some of the highest job losses in recent years. The Employment Security Department released the report earlier this week and the outlook isn't good.

Unfortunately what I found was mostly bad news. A rough spring, major company shut downs, and a general slump in the economy are all adding up to make this one of the worst job markets in Yakima's history and right now it could quickly turn around or dive even further.

Regional Labor Economist Don Messeck crunched the numbers for me today and I found out the job market is bad for most, but not everyone.

"We've got several industries that are losing jobs and kind of dragging the whole market down. We've got other agencies that seem to still be doing well," said Messeck.

The industry hurting the most is agriculture.

Messeck says, "The slow harvest, the cool damp weather has been depressing the agriculture and those non-agricultural non-farm industries that are directly dependent on agriculture."

Agriculture accounts for 20-percent of jobs in Yakima, compared to the three percent statewide. Making Yakima feel the effects of the rough spring more than other places. Yakima also saw a number of job losses due to companies going out of business.

"We had the closure of Western RV, that hurt, also we had the closure in April 06 of the plywood mill Yakima Resources and the county just started to rebound from those losses when Western RV closed," said Messeck.

It's not all doom and gloom in Yakima there are businesses that are doing well. The health care industry saw an increase of 1,100 jobs from April of ‘07 to April of ‘08. If some real estate predictions are true construction workers could be heading back to work soon as well.

"Housing predictors has ranked Yakima as actually number one in the nation in terms of housing appreciation values.  Think that will help the construction market," said Messeck.

Don says the next two quarters will probably see more job losses. The wild card determining how bad this year is will be is the fourth quarter.
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