YAKIMA - Yakima County's gradual drop in unemployment figures should continue in 2013.
That's according to Don Meseck, a regional economist for the state of Washington, who crunched the numbers during a luncheon at the SunDome last week.
For 2013, Meseck anticipates Yakima County will see a gain of 700 non-farm jobs compared to 2012. That's a nearly 1 percent uptick from 76,700 non-farm jobs last year compared to 77,400 jobs expected for 2013.
While a gain of 1 percent in the number of jobs in Yakima County may not seem like a substantial amount, it's more than twice the number of new jobs this area gained last year.
Specifically, Meseck said in 2012 Yakima County added 300 jobs compared to 2011, a gain of about .4 percent. The sector seeing the biggest growth in non-farm jobs in 2012 was professional and business services with a gain of 400 jobs in 2012. The biggest losers were in the fields of manufacturing and local government, which both lost 100 jobs last year.
Even so, the overall picture is positive for Yakima County employment.
"There's more good news than bad," Meseck said, noting there was an 8.1 percent hike in ag employment from 2011 to 2012. That number represents a bump of 1,079 ag jobs, from 13,279 to 14,358.
Not surprisingly, then, ag was the highest employment sector in Yakima County last year, accounting for 24.8 percent of all jobs. Health services and local government were next at 12.8 percent each.
Unemployment in Yakima County for 2012 fell to 9.8 percent, the lowest rate since 2009's 8.9 percent. The unemployment rate for 2010 and 2011 were pegged at 10.1 percent.