County growing older and younger

Populations of kids, elders on the rise in family-oriented area

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter



By the numbers


Total population — 431,250

Total households — 157,179

Family households — 109,082

Average family size — 3.16

Average household size — 2.66


Median age — 36.5

Under-18 population — 26.6%

65-plus population — 11.2%


Median household income — $59,051

Median family income — $68,477

In poverty — 11.7%

Income greater than $200,000 — 3.4%

Education of those 25 and older

No diploma — 9.2%

High school graduate — 25.9%

Some college, no degree — 39.2%

Bachelor’s degree or higher — 25.8%


White — 82.2%

Latino (any race) — 7.4%

Asian — 4%

Black — 2%

American Indian — Less than 1%

Native Pacific Islander — Less than 1%

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Washington Office of Financial Management and Washington Employment Security Department

With a lower cost of living than the rest of the metro area, Clark County is an enclave of middle-class family life.

The majority of the county’s estimated 431,250 residents live in family households, with more than a quarter of them children, according to the Census Bureau. Most of the households also fall into the middle-income range, with people who are predominantly white and were born in the United States.

A typical family in the county would be white, consist of two parents and one to two children, and have a median income of about $68,447.

Families often move to the county for lower housing prices, good schools and for those who work in Washington, rather than Oregon, no income taxes.

About 70 percent of the county’s 157,179 households are families.

As a testament to the county’s family character, growth of the younger-than-18 population from 2000 to 2010 here outpaced the rest of the Portland metropolitan area and the nation. During that period, the county’s population of children increased by 13.7 percent compared with national growth of 2.6 percent.

In addition to nine public school districts, the county offers many parks where children can play. A variety of services, including Children’s Home Society and Support for Early Learning & Families, are available to address children’s needs and improve parenting.

Meanwhile, the county’s population is also rapidly graying. About 11.2 percent of the county is age 65 or older. That number is projected to double by 2030.

Plagued by high unemployment during the recession — 15.9 percent at its peak in March 2010 — Clark County saw joblessness fall to 9.7 percent by October 2012, providing the beginnings of an economic rebound for middle-class lifestyles.

The county’s median household income was $59,051 in 2011, a boost from 2010’s median of $56,689. Sixty-one percent of households, up from 60 percent in 2010, had income of $50,000 or more per year.

About a quarter of the county’s residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, buoyed in part by the presence of Clark College and Washington State University Vancouver, as well as jobs in Portland.

The county struggles with the same challenge as Portland: lack of racial diversity.

A vast majority of county residents — more than 85 percent — are white, and nearly 90 percent were born in the United States. The second-largest group is Latino at 7.4 percent.

Nevertheless, the county hosts a sizable Eastern European immigrant community. About 2.9 percent of county residents were born in Eastern Europe, according to the Census Bureau. About 9.4 percent of residents who reported a specific ancestry indicated they had Eastern European heritage.

Still, community leaders are encouraged by the slow growth in foreign-born residents who bring new contours to the county’s cultural landscape.

About 10 percent of county residents were born outside the United States. Among them, 36 percent were from Europe, 32 percent from Asia and nearly 23 percent from Latin America.