Agriculture has long been the driving force of the Yakima County economy.
In 2017, the market value for agricultural products sold from Yakima County was nearly $2 billion, according to the Census of Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yakima County reported the highest market value among the state’s 39 counties and generated 21 percent of agriculture sales statewide.
It’s no surprise, then, that the sector generates a sizable portion of jobs in Yakima County. In 2018, the agriculture sector had an average of 32,340 jobs, or about 28 percent of the 116,329 jobs in all of Yakima County, according to figures from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The number of jobs increased 7 percent from the previous year.
Wages for agricultural positions have continued to increase, though they remain below the countywide average. In 2018, the average annual wage for jobs in the agricultural sector was $31,731, a 3.2 percent increase from the $30,755 in 2017, but below the county average of $39,893.
Agriculture also has an indirect impact on other industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade. A sizable portion of wholesale trade jobs are from companies that pack and ship agricultural commodities grown in the county. Manufacturers in the Yakima Valley produce everything from plastic bags to mechanical harvesters for the agriculture industry.
— Mai Hoang