Job outlook slowly improving in Yakima County

Job outlook slowly improving in Yakima County
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- There's reason for job hunters to have hope in Yakima County. While the local unemployment rate is 10.5 percent, there are a lot more open positions than there were a year ago.

Marisela Fernandez is looking for a job. She's been a nursing assistant for six years and wants to advance her career.

"The hours have been cut down, so you have to look for something that really fits you in that field," said Fernandez.

She has to pay the bills. And, Marisela wants a job that she loves.

"Otherwise you won't last at a job, and you'll just quit. You have to enjoy what you do," said Fernandez.

Yakima County's job market is a tough one, but the outlook is getting better. The annual unemployment rate dropped from 9.8 percent locally in 2012 to 9.2 percent last year. Every major job sector grew or stabilized, with the exception of government.

KIMA dug up the numbers and found the total number of non-farm jobs in Yakima County grew by 700 between December 2012 and December 2013. Most of that increase was in the service industry: jobs in retail, wholesale trade, trucking and health care. Another 100 jobs were in production, like construction and manufacturing.

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital hires up to 350 people a year and has 60 to 70 openings at any given time - most of those for nursing.

"We have a variety of positions, typically everything from HR to IS type positions, accounting, things like that," said John King, Memorial's HR manager.

It's a good sign for Marisela, who's committed to health care. She keeps looking for the right opportunity.

"ASAP, the bills don't wait, so, yeah, pretty soon, I hope," said Fernandez.

Yakima County is still behind where it was before the great recession in 2008. There are about 1,800 fewer jobs in the economy today. Economists think we could be back to that level sometime next year.