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Special Report: Tri-Cities Jobs Forecast

by Molly Kelleher
KEPR CBS 19, November 11, 2008

Workers process apples from Broetje Orchards, which is among thirteen farms that pump water from Lower Snake Reservoirs TRI-CITIES - It takes a lot of people to get these Washington apples from the orchards and into your grocery cart. Business here at Broetje orchards is booming. Five million boxes of apples move in and out of this warehouse every year. It's not just the number of apples that's impressive, it's the number of jobs too.

"Ag gets criticized because seasonal employment it's an operation of 900 people year round large employer. We're a quiet company for impact it makes," Broetje Orchards' Jim Hazen.

Broetje landed number nine on TRIDEC's top twenty Tri-Cities employers' list. And that's just counting permanent workers, during peak season they employ 1800 people.

"Our job needs flow with season we're at peak harvest and in November jobs diminish. We're not going to start hiring again until March," said Hazen.

So we went down the list from one to twenty, we wanted to find out who's hiring and who's playing it safe in this economy.

We didn't find any red flags, but results were mixed. Local hospitals are doing fine, more than a hundred jobs openings between KADLEC, KGH and Lourdes. And all three have plans to expand, so that's expected to be a strong job market.

There are plenty of openings in the science and tech community. PNNL / Battelle told me they've got 200 active openings. And they've seen about a 30% increase in openings from last year.

Bechtel's work at the vit plant means they expect to maintain their current workforce. Right now, they've got 60 postings.

But then there are some jobs in limbo, Lockheed Martin's IT contracts are on hold, that's up to 500 jobs. and then there's the Hanford waiting game.

"I can tell you we're waiting to what happens now with the switch over of contracts see how many employees get picked up," said Candice Bluechel of WorkSource Columbia Basin.

If jobs are the heartbeat of the economy then folks at WorkSource are the ones checking the pulse. This isn't just a place to look for jobs, the staff here is in constant contact with big employers to see what jobs are out there.

"(The forecast for the next 60 days) is that there will be some jobs but it will be a quieter time," said Bluechel.

Quiet and cautious, Bluechel says holiday retail jobs are already filled and ag is slowing down. She says companies are probably going to wait until the first of the year to decide if they're going to hire.

No storms on the horizon, the jobs forecast is calm with no big ups or downs. Most employers seem to be taking the wait and see approach. There no drastic reaction to the downturn in the economy, for now.

Related Pages:
Irrigation from 4 Lower Snake River Reservoirs by Reed Burkholder, Breaching Dams to Save Idaho's Salmon & Steelhead, 1993

Molly Kelleher
Special Report: Tri-Cities Jobs Forecast <= click to watch video from original site
KEPR CBS 19, November 11, 2008

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