Jobs Report: Franklin County in top five for highest unemployment

Jobs Report: Franklin County in top five for highest unemployment
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Franklin County has one of the worst unemployment rates in the state, but just four months ago, it was was at a five year low.

We spoke with labor economists who explained why Franklin County is bucking both state and national trends.

Mandy Knecht comes to WorkSource looking for a job.

But after a month of searching, she's still turning up no results.

"Even when I'm not here, it's a 24 hour search at home. I'm constantly on the internet looking for work," Mandy says.

While she doesn't like to be a statistic, it's hard to argue with the fact that she is just one of thousands of people in our area who are in the same boat.

"It's stressful when you've got bills coming and kids who want to be in sports, and everything and you can't meet their needs and yours alone--so it's stressful," Many continued.

While Benton County's unemployment rate has stayed fair steady over the last few years, Franklin County's has proved much more volatile.
Just four months ago, Franklin County's boasted a 6.4 percent unemployment rate.

It was the lowest in five years.

But in just two months' time, that number climbed to 9.7, which is one of the highest in the state.

Experts say it's a result of Hanford lay-offs meeting typical seasonal workers let go.

"We've lost about 3,300 people from Hanford which has driven up the unemployment rate by at least two percent," says Ajsa Suljic, a labor economist.

She says our area has a promising future for jobs, but Hanford still remains the biggest driver.

"We do have booming health care, education, retail trade, and service industries, however, that's not enough to compensate for all those job losses," Ajsa added.

Mandy thinks the problem could lie with employers being too strict.

"I'm not really sure you can point a finger at anybody, I think it's just people need to lower their standards on people that they hire," she says.

And maybe that's what it will take for more people in our area to find jobs.

There is some good news. Experts say while we lost about one and a half percent of our area's employment last year, they are confident we can gain that number back by next year.