by: Kevin McCarty
Job figures in Pierce County are better than they’ve been in nearly a decade. After a slow start following the recession, existing businesses are expanding, and new businesses are moving in.
“Pierce County offers, I think, a high quality of life and it’s affordable,” said Deborah Howell, Chief Operations Officer with Workforce Central, an organization that tracks and evaluates the local job market.
Howell says job growth is following population growth in Tacoma and Pierce County. When new residents get here, they’re spending money.
“One of the things it tells us it that we have people moving into Pierce County that already have jobs,” Howell said. “So we’ll probably see the I-5 corridor in the morning a little crazier than it used to be.”
Pierce County added 2,200 jobs in March alone for a total of 8,700 new hires since March 2016.
The unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent the lowest since it peaked at more than 11 percent in 2010.
Construction is booming in Pierce County as new apartments are springing up and new homes built. Leisure and hospitality businesses are also growing, along with professional business services and government.
But the number one industry for job seekers by a long shot is healthcare, adding 700 positions over the month of March.
“Healthcare continues to hire because the baby boomers are beginning to age,” said Lynessa Tinglum, communications director with Advanced Healthcare.
Tinglum says people with no healthcare experience looking for work in the industry can get an entry level position as a certified nursing assistant with as little as four weeks training. And the jobs are just waiting.
“We see a lot of open vacancies across the industry,” said Tinglum. “No matter what the healthcare delivery system is, they are hiring CNAs.”
Both Tinglum and Howell say positions available now are likely to offer long term employment for job seekers.
Howell said she expects April unemployment numbers to look even better for the South Sound.