Newcomer count steady in December, down for the year

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Newcomers to Clark County in December increased by about one dozen more new drivers than arrived the same month in 2011, the Washington state Department of Licensing reported on Thursday.

The number of out-of-county drivers applying for a local license was 1,113 last month, a slight 1.1 percent increase over 1,101 licenses swapped last year in December. For the year, from January through December, a total of 13,063 people sought Clark County licenses, down 3.2 percent compared to 13,494 people during the same period in 2011. It was the weakest year since 2009.

Newcomer growth is often seen as a bellwether of the county’s economic expansion because it indicates new consumers who are likely to work, buy homes, shop at local stores and eat at area restaurants.