Four Washington metros place in the top 20 for job growth.

Four Washington cities rank in the top 20 for five-year job growth in a new USA Today report based on analysis from 24/7 Wall Street.  At No. 12, Wenatchee is the highest ranking Washington city, followed by Olympia-Tumwater (13), Kennewick-Richland (15), and Bellingham (20).

USA Today reports,

Washington has more metro areas on this list than any other state.

Of Wenatchee, the newspaper says,

Employment rose by 19.3% in Wenatchee over the last five years – faster than in every other metro area in Washington state and all but 11 metro areas nationwide. Since May 2014, no sector reported a net decline in jobs, and the leisure and hospitality industry and education and health services sectors each reported a net increase in employment of over 1,000.

Of Olympia,

In Olympia-Tumwater, employment grew by 18.5% in the last five years, more than in all but a dozen other cities nationwide.

In recent years, the metro area has been among the 50 fastest growing nationwide, with 9.4% population growth between mid-2013 and mid-2018. Population growth results in growing demand for public services, and over the last five years, the two fastest growing industries in the metro area were education and health care and government, which added 3,500 and 3,400 net new jobs, respectively.

Of Kennewick-Richland,

There are 21,431 more people working in the Kennewick-Richland metro area today than there were half a decade ago, the largest net increase of any of the four Washington metro areas on this list. Rapid population growth in recent years has driven up demand for public services, which partially explains the employment increase in education and health services. The sector added more jobs than any other sector since 2014.

Despite the near nation-leading increase in employment, joblessness is a bigger problem in Kennewick-Richland than it is nationwide on average.

And of Bellingham,

Bellingham is one of four metro areas in Washington state to rank on this list. In the last five years, the number of people working in the metro area climbed by 16.9% – more than double the comparable 7.3% national job growth. Growth was driven primarily by the public sector, as the number of people working in government climbed by nearly 2,000 in the last five years. The manufacturing sector also added net 1,500 jobs.

Employment growth in Bellingham’s public sector is likely driven by the increased demand for government services that often accompanies a rapidly growing population. The 9.5% population growth rate between mid-2013 and mid-2018 in Bellingham was well more than double the 3.5% national population growth rate over the same period.

The top five cities: St. George, Utah (1), Bend-Redmond, Oregon (2), Reno, Nevada (3), Nashville, Tennessee (4), and Provo-Orem, Utah (5). Most are mid-size or small urban centers, allowing them to post rather large growth rates by adding jobs to a smaller employment base. As USA Today reports, 

In many of the cities on this list, the presence of major companies – often, the largest company in the state – help bolster economic conditions. Examples on this list include Boise, Idaho, where grocery chain Albertsons is headquartered, and Charlotte, North Carolina, home to the headquarters of Bank of America.

Growth in overall employment rarely happens rapidly without an increase a population. A growing population typically leads to growing demand for goods and services, which results in upticks in hiring. Every city on this list has had faster population growth than the U.S. as a whole in the last five years, and all but one of them have reported population growth of at least double the 3.5% national growth rate.

The Bellingham Herald writes,

The small metro areas on the list are finally seeing the percentage growth major metro areas like Seattle posted earlier in the decade, said Hart Hodges, director at Western Washington University’s Center for Economic Business Research.

“We’ve seen a bit of balancing out, so to speak, in the data in recent years,” Hodges said in an email to The Bellingham Herald.

Part of the reason is the cost of living is lower in the smaller metro areas and more people are commuting/telecommuting, Hodges said. While companies in smaller communities added workers, people living in smaller communities are also working for companies based in metro areas.

The excellent showing for Washington cities punctuates the continued strong performance of the state. Recent economic news suggests the national economic continues to beat expectations.

Consumer confidence strongly rebounded following a dip in June.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 135.7 in July from 124.3 in June. The bounce back from last month’s drop was much stronger than economists expected.

The index measures consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Both rose substantially in July.

Wages and benefits are continuing to grow.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that pay and benefits for all U.S. workers increased 2.7% in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, down from a 2.8% rise in the first quarter compared to a year ago. The 12-month peak so far in this expansion for wages and salaries was a 2.9% gain for the period ending in December of last year.

The unemployment rate fell to a half century low of 3.6% in April and May and ticked up slightly to a still historically low 3.7% in June.

The government will report the July unemployment rate on Friday and economists at JPMorgan are forecasting it will tick back down to 3.6 percent, a further sign that the current economic expansion, now the longest in U.S. history, is continuing to power along.

And employers are continuing to hire.

U.S. companies added a healthy 156,000 jobs in July with larger firms accounted for much of the gains, a private survey found.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that there was solid hiring in the construction, transportation, health care and leisure and hospitality sectors. But smaller companies are struggling to find talent after years of robust job growth.

Uncertainty, particularly regarding trade, remains high. But, so far, the economy is outperforming expectations.