You know how it is.  Before you step out, you look in the mirror, check your hair, the fit of your jacket, look for food in your teeth...It's good to look in the mirror every now and then and remind yourself of what your workin' with.

Same is true for Yakima County.  Donald W. Meseck is a labor economist who recently released the "Yakima Profile".  It's extensive so let's check out some highlights and be reminded of who we are!

We Own Less Than Half

It starts with the land.  Yakima is the second-largest county in Washington state at 2.75 million acres. Three entities own 63.4 percent of this total.

• The Yakama Nation (1,074,174 acres)

• The U.S. Forest Service (503,726 acres)

• The Yakima Training Center (165,787 acres)

What that means is a much smaller taxable base than our size would otherwise indicate.  Smaller tax base results in fewer resources for government services.

Ag Was And Is Still King

Most of the county’s population is concentrated along the Yakima River, largely because irrigation was critical to the success of the communities and the farmers who settled in this area.

Yakima settlers developed the land into a commercial agricultural enterprise in the 1880s. With irrigation and railroads, commercial fruit production flourished. Yakima established wine grape vineyards in 1869 and hops acreage in 1872, which remain major parts of its agricultural industry today. Forestry and livestock, dairies and the growing, storage and shipping/processing of deciduous tree fruits (apples, cherries, pears, etc.), are bedrocks of Yakima County’s economy.


The JOBS Picture

Agriculture provides the majority of jobs followed by health services and local government.  These three industries/sectors account for 54.5 percent

Agricultural employers provided 30,767 jobs, or 27.8 percent of total employment

Health services provided 16,543 jobs, or 14.9 percent

Local government averaged 13,079 jobs, or 11.8 percent of total employment.

Labor economist  Donald W. Meseck:

There is a generalization about the Yakima County job market that: “In good years we grow slower than Washington state, but in the bad years we do not lose jobs as rapidly as the state.” A relatively long-term view of average nonfarm job growth rates confirms that

.Meseck says the Civilian Labor Force (CLF) will soon return to where it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Construction employment grew by 36.4 percent and 995 jobs, from 2,734 jobs in 2010 to 3,729 in 2020.  On a percentage basis, this was the fastest-growing industry in Yakima County in the most recent 10-year period

Who Is On The Job

In 2020, women held 48.9 percent of the jobs in Yakima County. However, there were substantial differences in gender by industry.

• Male-dominated industries -- mining (84.9 percent), utilities (84.3 percent), and construction (81.2 percent).

• Female-dominated industries --  health care and social assistance (79.1 percent), educational services (68.8 percent), and finance and insurance (64.5 percent).

We are Older And We Make Less Money

• Approximately 26.6 percent of workers in Yakima County in all industries were in the 55+ years of age category versus only 23.0 percent statewide.

The total covered payroll in 2020 in Yakima County was nearly $4.9 billion.

The average annual wage was $44,223 or 57.6 % of the state average of $76,801.

The Highs And Lows On Payday

Annual wages in Yakima County 2020

were highest in utilities ($100,919)

management of companies & enterprises ($85,088)

finance & insurance ($75,915).


AT The Other End

Annual wages in Yakima County 2020

were lowest in accommodation & food services ($20,139)

arts, entertainment & recreation ($24,354)

mining ($33,206).



Yakima's Paychecks ARE Smaller

 Inflation-adjusted per capita income in Yakima County in 2020 was $49,099 compared to the state at $67,126 and the nation at $59,510.



Yakima Is Younger Than The State Average

Compared with the state, Yakima County’s 2021 population has more children under 5 years old and more youth under 18 years old. Approximately 29.5 percent of the county’s residents are under 18 years old compared to 21.8 percent statewide. However, the county’s population age 65 or older totals only 14.0 percent compared to 15.9 percent in Washington.

Yakima Minorities Are Minority No More

According to US Census population estimates as of July 1, 2021, Yakima County had a higher percentage of Latino and Hispanic residents than the state and nation.

Yakima County’s Hispanic population is 50.2 percent, much higher than Washington state (13.0 percent). Yakima County’s American Indian/Native Alaskan population was 6.7 percent compared to 1.9 percent in the state

Yakima Lower In Higher Ed

Yakima County had a lower percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher (17.6 percent) compared to the state at 36.7 percent and the nation at 32.9 percent during the same period.

There is a lot more detail in the full report but this is a good snapshot of who we are and what we do in Yakima County.

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