Yakima Valley Trends Blog – September 2023

Did you know there are nearly 140 different community indicators on Yakima Valley Trends - each updated throughout the year? But which ones, and when?

This issue of the Yakima Valley Trends blog lists some of the most recently updated indicators on the Yakima Valley Trends website.  

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Recent Updates


0.1.1 Total Population & Growth Rate
Recent estimates of the April 1 population of the county by the Washington Office of Financial Management put the number of county residents at 261,200. This represented an increase of 1,250 and a percentage gain of 0.5%, over 2022, a considerably lower rate than that of Washington State. Growth rates varied substantially among the county’s cities and towns, with Tieton leading, followed by Moxee.

0.3.1 Residual Net Migration
Net migration into the county between April 1 2023 and April 1 2023 was nearly 1,100. The “natural increase,” births minus deaths, contributed very little. This marks the strongest year of in-migration since the turn of the century and a reversal for the net outflow of residents for most of the past two decades.


3.1.3 Overall Annual Average Wage
Earnings from wages make up the largest component of personal income, one of the key measures of economic success. The average annual wage rose 3.7% in 2022 over 2021, outpacing the WA rate of 0.4%. But it was lower than the average of the prior five years, 4.4%. Note than when inflation was factored in, the “real” wage in the county actually fell.

3.2.1 Annual Taxable Retail Sales
This measure of economic activity in the county exceeded $5 billion for the second consecutive year, although not increasing at not the same pace seen in 2021. The annual growth rate was 4.4% versus 15.8% between 2021 and 2020. The most recent rate, however, still exceed the 5-year average rate experienced prior to the pandemic.

3.3.3 Net Jobs Created
The number of jobs created in 2022 was the highest in the entire series tracked by this indicator in the Trends. The gain over 2021 amounted to 3,133. Leading the increases were three sectors: hospitality, government (school districts) and healthcare. Even with these increases, however, the county had not covered the large job losses in 2020 by the end of last year.

3.4.3 Quarterly Residential Building Permits
Permits, a precursor to actual construction activity, are considerably lower the first half of this year than the same period in 2022. To-date, units permitted in the county are 281. A year ago, the number stood at 473. This measure includes both single- and multi-family homes/units.



4.2.4 Extended (5-Year) Graduation Rate
The share of a high school cohort that graduates is a highly visible marker of public-school quality. For the cohort graduating in 2022, the county average share was about 81%. This is lower than the peak attained by County seniors in 2020 (86%) and lower than the Washington state average, also 86%. This version of the graduation rate tracks those students graduating in four as well as five years.

4.3.2 Share of Students Meeting English Language Arts Standards
As is now well-known, the pandemic was not kind to student learning. This measure tracks the share of public-school students who met standards on the Smarter Balanced Assessment of English Language Arts. Between 2019 and 2021, the average share of 10th graders in the county’s public schools who met standards fell sharply, from 53% to 38%. The share of 4th graders also plunged, from 45% to 29%. Students taking the assessment in 2022 showed improvement but their scores still lay below the pre-pandemic shares.

4.4.2 Degrees Awarded at Yakima Valley College (YVC)
The county shows a disproportionate share of its population (compared to the U.S. and Washington) with some community college education. This underscores the needs of the local economy and the success of YVC in their training. The most graduation count (2021), however, reveals a drop of about 80 Associates degrees granted from the peak observed in 2019.


6.1.6 Share of the Population Facing Food Insecurity
The share of youth facing this existential condition has steadily dropped from 2009. The most recently reported five-year period, 2017-2021, shows a share of 16%. This is still considerably higher than for U.S. and for Washington youth. The overall population share, at approximately 11%, is lower but hasn’t declined much over the past 15 years. It is now about equal to the U.S. rate.





List updated 09.13.23

The complete list of Yakima Valley Trends can be found here.

New Intern Features

Liliya Kostenko

Hometown: Spokane, WA

Major: Accounting

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2024

Post-graduation plans:
I plan to join an accounting firm to expand my knowledge and skills. My goal is to take and pass the CPA exam to become a certified accountant.

After a few months of working on the Trends project, my favorite thing so far:
I think it is incredible how much information we have at hand, and how little we know about our hometown. Every time I update the data, I learn a lot of new things that I could potentially use to help me in my future career.

Miranda Carmona

Hometown: Spokane, WA

Major: Economics

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2024

Post-graduation plans:
Pursue a Master’s degree in Economics and pursue a career in economic analysis

After a few months of working on the Trends project, my favorite thing so far:
learning and analyzing new trends for different regions in Washington every week. It amazes me how much I have learned about various counties in our state!