Yakima County led the nation for an increase in jobs during the second quarter last year.
Compiling data from the country’s 329 largest counties, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that Yakima added 8,646 jobs – an increase of 34.6 percent – compared to the second quarter 2011.
Most jobs were added in “natural resources and mining,” according to the bureau.
Where jobs were up 34.6 percent in Yakima, the country as a whole marked an increase of 1.8 percent. Pierce County saw an increase of 0.8 percent during the second quarter last year. Thurston County lost 0.2 percent.
Donald Meseck, the state regional economist with purview over Yakima County, said Tuesday he suspected the increase itself, and the No. 1 ranking for the year-over-year jump, came thanks to a bumper year in agriculture.
“Between 23 and 25 percent (of jobs) in Yakima County are in agriculture,” Meseck said. “That doesn’t include those jobs dependent in agriculture – food processing, wholesale trade, trucking.”
Statewide, he said, between 2 percent and 3 percent of jobs come from the agriculture industry.
A good asparagus crop, followed by cherries, likely led to last year’s increase, he said.Then add those ancillary jobs – pruning, thinning – that support agriculture.
The bureau on Tuesday also released earnings data nationwide. The U.S. average weekly wage rose 1.3 percent to $903 in the second quarter last year.
The average weekly wage in Pierce County, $837, was up 1.7 percent year-over-year. In King County, the average of $1,167 was up 2.9 percent. In Thurston County, the average weekly wage of $818 was down 0.6 percent.
Nationwide, the average weekly wage of $903 was up 1.3 percent.
In Yakima County, an average of $617 was up 1.1 percent.