Columbia Basin Occupational Projection: 2019-2029

by Dallas Fridley

December 15, 2020

Employment in the Columbia Basin is expected to grow by 7.1% over the decade, climbing by 2,850 jobs to total 42,863 in 2029. The Columbia Basin 2019-2029 occupational projection provides estimated growth for about 170 occupations. In addition to occupational job growth, the projection includes estimates for replacement openings along with educational requirements (typical entry-level and competitive).


Occupational openings due to growth, caused by a new business opening or an existing business expanding, will create 2,850 jobs in the Columbia Basin through 2029. However, the vast majority of occupational job openings, about 50,040 or 95%, 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 fill more than 52,880 openings over 2019-2029.
Health care is expected to lead the Columbia Basin, growing at a higher than average rate of 13.3%, with 1,842 total openings. Growth openings are expected to create about 260 health care jobs. Replacement need will open up around 1,580 jobs over 2019-2029 or about 86% of all health care openings.

Management, business, and financial occupations are also expected to grow well above average, at 10.7%. An above average share of the group’s future openings, 334 jobs or 10%, are due to growth, with 2,919 or 90% for replacement need.

Construction and extraction occupations, which are dominated by building trades, are projected to grow by 10% over the decade. Residential construction activity is expected to maintain its momentum with openings due to growth creating about 140 jobs. Replacement need will produce around 1,660 openings over 2019-2019 or about 92% of all construction and extraction job openings.

Transportation and material moving occupations are projected to perform above average, creating 482 jobs, an increase of 9.5%. Bus drivers, truck drivers, and fork lift operators are examples of occupations found in this group. Transportation and material moving occupations are projected to have 7,170 total openings – of which 6,688 (93%) are expected for replacement.

Professional and related occupations, like computer programmers, industrial engineers, and teachers, are expected to have above average growth over 2019-2029, rising by 8.2%. Future openings due to growth are projected to bring nearly 350 new jobs to the Columbia Basin, while replacement need will open up 4,220 (92%).

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations are projection to grow above average, at 8.1%, adding 163 jobs over 2019-2029 to total 2,170. Replacement need will open up 2,017 jobs or 93% of the group’s total openings.

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations are expected to grow by 7.7% – just above the Columbia Basin’s 7.1% increase for all occupations. Farming, fishing, and forestry averaged 3,527 jobs in 2019 and the group’s growth over the decade is expected to produce 271 new jobs. Most of the group’s future openings, 96%, are expected for replacement need. In total the group is projected to have nearly 6,100 job openings.

Service occupations, like corrections officers, restaurant cooks, janitors, and gaming dealers, will have 11,101 total openings, with 10,563 or 95% for replacement and 538 credited to growth. Service occupations are expected to grow just above the Columbia Basin average, at 7.6%.

The production group averaged 3,342 jobs in 2019. Below average growth is expected for the production group, with an increase of 4.6% over 2019-2029. Openings due to growth will provide 154 new jobs, while replacement need will open up an additional 3,973 (96%).

Sales and related occupations are expected to grow by 3.4% over the decade. Despite the below average growth projection, the group is expected to have 4,559 total openings, with the vast majority (98%) for replacement need.

Office and administrative support occupations are projected to grow slowly, at just 1.3%. Growth openings will add an additional 64 jobs, increasing the group’s 2029 employment to 4,958. With 99% of office and administrative support’s openings due to replacement need, the group will have 5,714 total openings over 2019-2029.


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 13% of the total projected occupational job openings require a college degree at the entry level. 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 also the education level that students are recommended to acquire to help them be competitive throughout their career. At the competitive level, 24% of total occupational openings require a college degree, 20% require some postsecondary training, such as a certificate, and the remaining 56% require a high school diploma or equivalent.

Our Latest Articles Our Latest Articles

Latest Items