YAKIMA — Fruit warehouses in the Okanogan Valley packed on the jobs in July to help shrink Okanogan County’s unemployment rate for the 25th straight month.
The county’s July jobless rate fell to 6.5 percent, a 0.3 percent decrease from same month last year, the state Employment Security Department said Monday.
Work in packing houses and trucking — left over from 2012’s record apple harvest — led all sectors with a 53 percent increase (80 jobs) from July 2012, with other fruit-related jobs in the wholesale trade sector jumping 20 percent (40 jobs).
Manufacturing also showed a healthy gain of 5.4 percent (20 jobs), while construction grew 1.3 percent (10 jobs).
Retail continued a five-month decline with a 5.6 percent drop (110 jobs). Regional Labor Economist Don Meseck in Yakima said the down trend bears watching, but that retail has remained strong across the state — a sign that Okanogan County could reverse the downward trend in coming months.
In year-over-year comparisons, the government sector also fell 2.1 percent to shed nearly 100 jobs as state and federal downsizing continued.