A welcome bounce for Clark County jobs

Job growth stronger than expected in second quarter

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Clark County, mired in an agonizingly slow recovery, got a jolt of good news Tuesday as the region's labor economist reported that the local economy performed better than expected in this year's second quarter.

Those new accounts of stronger job growth in the April to June period led to a boosting of September's initial employment estimate of 129,900 county jobs to 131,200 jobs, increasing annualized growth to 1.7 percent, double the earlier projection.

When Clark County's economy is healthy, it typically posts an annualized growth rate of 2.5 to 3 percent. So, the county's economy is, suffice it to say, far from rolling like a freight train.

Yet, Scott Bailey, regional economist for the Washington Employment Security Department, called the second-quarter upward revisions "good news" in his monthly "Southwest Washington Labor Market News" analysis, released Tuesday.

Jobless rate revised upward

The report also noted an estimated net addition of 2,200 jobs in Clark County in the 12 months ending in October. The private sector, with notable gains in manufacturing, and professional and business services, fattened payrolls by 2,600 jobs. That gain was offset, however, by a loss of 400 jobs in the public sector.

Still, the mixed-bag nature of recovery in a county slugged hard by the recession remains in effect. For example, since the end of the second-quarter in June, initial estimates show a small decline in employment in August and September.

And, in October, employment fell by an estimated 400 jobs, although those losses represented a typical pattern due to seasonal factors such as a decline in construction activity.

When seasonally adjusted, October's employment numbers showed no change, according to Bailey.

Clark County's preliminary jobless rate in October -- 8.2 percent -- will likely be revised upward to roughly 9.9 percent. That's to account for unemployed county residents who previously worked in Oregon. A similar revision drove up the September preliminary jobless rate of 8.3 percent to 9.9 percent.

In September 2011, unemployment in the county was 11.8 percent. It was 11.6 percent in October 2011.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ;http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com