Walla Walla rates in foodies' small town Top 8


Walla Walla has made another list of top foodie destinations. The community made the cut on "8 of the Best American Small Towns for Foodies," on "BootsnAll," a "one-stop indie travel guide."

The piece has been circulating on Facebook all week. Other cities that made the list include Ithaca, N.Y.; Whitefish, Mont.; and Portsmouth, N.H.

Here's how writer Esha Samajpati set up the list: "Globally inspired cuisines, creative chefs, critical acclaim, adventurous palates and a spurt of farm-to-fork restaurants have contributed to making cities like New York and Los Angeles popular with foodies. But away from the spotlight, many small towns in America have slowly risen to the status of culinary destinations. And more often than not the food there is fresh from the local farm and cheaper than what you'd find in a big-city counterpart."

The segment on Walla Walla, which was listed first, specifically mentions Andrae's Kitchen, Salumiere Cesario, the Walla Walla Valley Farmers' Market, The Marc and Green Spoon. To check it out, visit www.bootsnall.com.


Job vacancies in Washington state have reached their highest level in three years, according to the latest figures from the state Employment Security Department.

A little more than 60,000 vacant jobs were available in April. That number represents a 55 percent increase from the same period in 2010. It's nearly double the number from spring 2009.

Those with skills in food preparation and serving; computer and mathematical positions; health care; and office and administrative support may have the best luck at finding work because those fields have shown the greatest growth, the report shows. Geographically, it also helps if you live in the central Puget Sound area. About 62 percent of the job vacancies are in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

State officials say the number is an encouraging sign of economic recovery.

The last time job vacancies were higher was in spring 2008, where nearly 75,000 positions were available.

"In order for unemployment to come down, we need more jobs and more hiring," Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said in a prepared statement. "This survey shows that employment conditions are gradually improving."

The breakdown of job vacancies by county or region was not included in the announcement.

According to the report, the number of unemployed people seeking work dropped from a peak of about 337,000 in spring 2010 to about 312,000 last spring. The total labor force -- including employed workers as well as unemployed workers actively seeking jobs -- also decreased by nearly 52,000 people.

Job vacancies were at a record high in fall 2006, when nearly 91,000 positions were open. Three years later, Washington it a low point of 32,037 vacancies.

Here are a few other highlights the Employment Security Department included in its report: About half of the job vacancies were at companies with fewer than 50 employees. About about one-fourth were at companies with more than 250 employees.

Of the job vacancies reported, 14.7 percent -- or 8,834 -- were newly created positions, mostly at companies with fewer than 20 employees.

Over the year, vacancies grew in all major industry groups except the information and utilities industries. The healthcare and social assistance industry (10,131), the retail-trade industry (9,502) and the accommodation and food services industry (7,728) had the most vacancies.

About 55 percent of open jobs required a high school diploma or had no educational requirement. The percentage of vacancies required advanced education tends to drop in the spring as seasonal employment increases.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.


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