Columbia Basin Occupational Forecast: 2017-2027

by Dallas Fridley

August 10, 2018

Employment in the Columbia Basin is expected to grow by 12 percent over the decade, climbing by 4,767 jobs to total 44,063 in 2027. The Columbia Basin occupational forecast provides estimated growth for about 160 occupations (2017-2027). In addition to occupational job growth, the forecast includes estimates for replacement openings along with typical entry-level and competitive educational requirements.


From 2007 to 2017, total covered employment in the Columbia Basin climbed by around nine percent, translating to about 3,000 new jobs. Occupational openings due to growth, caused by a new business opening or an existing business expanding, will create around 4,800 jobs through 2027. However, the vast majority of occupational job openings, about 48,000, are needed to replace workers who leave their occupation. They could leave for a variety of reasons, including retirement. Whether it is due to economic expansion, workers leaving their occupation for another, or workers leaving the labor force altogether, each opening creates an opportunity for another qualified worker. In all, the Columbia Basin will need to fill more than 52,700 openings between 2017 and 2027.
Construction and extraction occupations, which are dominated by building trades, are forecast to grow by 17.6 percent over the decade. Residential construction activity is expected to gain momentum with openings due to growth creating about 250 jobs. Replacement needs will produce around 1,500 openings between 2017 and 2017 or about 86 percent of all construction and extraction job openings.

Service occupations, like corrections officers, restaurant cooks, janitors and gaming dealers, will have 11,553 openings, of which 10,729 are for replacement, with 824 due to growth. Service occupations are expected to grow below the Columbia Basin average, at 11.1 percent.

Health care is expected to grow at a higher than average rate of 16.9 percent, with 1,907 total openings. More than 300 health care openings will come from growth (18%) with nearly 1,600 for replacement (82%).

Farming, fishing and forestry occupations are expected to grow by 16.1 percent – well above the 12.1 percent increase for all occupations. Farming, fishing, and forestry averaged 3,550 jobs in 2017 and its growth over the decade is expected to produce 571 new jobs. Most of the group’s future openings, 91 percent, are expected for replacement needs. Overall, the group is projected to have more than 6,200 job openings.

Slow growth in office and administrative support occupations, at just 6.3 percent, is expected to produce an additional 281 jobs, increasing the group’s 2027 total to 4,762. With 95 percent of office and administrative supports openings due to replacement need, the group with have 5,316 total openings between 2017 and 2027.

Professional and related occupations, like computer programmers, industrial engineers and teachers, are expected to have below average growth between 2017 and 2027, rising by 10.8 percent. Future openings due to growth are projected to bring nearly 500 new jobs to the Columbia Basin, while replacement needs will open up about 4,000 (90%).

Transportation and material moving occupations are projected to perform above average, creating 603 jobs, an increase of 12.8 percent. Bus drivers, truck drivers, and fork lift operators are examples of occupations found in this group, with 6,637 total openings – of which 6,034 (91%) are expected for replacement.

Sales and related occupations are expected to grow by 10.2 percent over the decade. Despite the below average growth projection, the group is expected to have 4,755 total openings, with the vast majority (94%) for replacement needs.

Management, business and financial occupations are expected to grow well above average, at 17.3 percent. An above average share of the group’s future openings, 531 jobs or 16 percent, are due to growth, with more than 2,700 for replacement needs.

The production group averaged 3,152 jobs in 2017. Below average growth is expected for the production group, with an increase of 9.4 percent between 2017 and 2027. Openings due to growth will provide 297 new jobs, while openings due to replacement will open up an additional 3,716 (93%).

Installation, maintenance and repair occupations are forecast to grow above average, at 14.2 percent, adding 280 jobs between 2017 and 2027 to total 2,255. Replacement openings represented about 88 percent of its total openings.


Employment Department analysts reviewed each occupation and determined the most common education level sought by employers hiring workers. This level is obviously not set in stone. It varies by employer and the state of the economy, among other factors. Higher education and training levels are generally required of job seekers when the economy is in a downturn and it is an “employer’s market,” while lower levels are generally required when the economy is expanding.
Just nine percent of all projected occupational openings require a college degree. The majority of openings will require related work experience or offer training while on the job. This training may last for a few days or several months until the worker learns the required duties.

Analysts also looked at the education and training levels that generally make individuals more competitive in the job market. This is the education level that students are recommended to acquire to help them be competitive throughout their career. At the competitive level, 22.1 percent of total occupational openings require a college degree, 23.6 percent require some postsecondary training, such as a certificate, and the remaining 54.2 percent require a high school diploma or equivalent.


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