Clark County makes 'solid' jobs gain over 12 months

Report shows year-over-year growth in all but one sector

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

Clark County employment grew by 4,700 jobs over the 12 months ending Feb. 28. The 3.5 percent increase in jobs over that one-year period was “solid,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for the state Employment Security department. That included a gain of 600 jobs since January.

Clark County reported a preliminary unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in February. The preliminary January unemployment rate of 7.5 percent was revised upward by 0.8 points to 8.3 percent, a smaller revision than the previous two months, Bailey said in his monthly jobs report.

The report also showed year-over-year growth in all but one of the county’s employment sectors.

In the 12 months through February, education and health services added 1,000 workers and professional and business services grew by 800 jobs. Transportation, trade and utilities added 800 jobs, including 300 in wholesale trade. Government employment in Clark County was up by 600 jobs from February through February.

Financial services increased by 6.1 percent, adding 200 jobs in February and the leisure and hospitality sector expanded by 400 jobs. Information services and another employment category called “other services” each added 100 jobs.

The construction, mining and logging category increased by 600 jobs, which moved the sector to a total of 9,200 jobs in February, up 7 percent from the same month last year.

Meanwhile, manufacturing jobs declined, shedding 100 jobs year over year for an annual loss of 1,200 jobs.

Long-term jobless

An increase in openings for trained health care professionals does not appear to be helping the long-term unemployed, including some who lost their extended benefits in late December. U. S. lawmakers can’t seem to agree on whether to reinstate the extension, said Sheryl Hutchinson, communications director for the state Employment Security Department.

Even with steadying employment, the state is not seeing much of a dent in the number of long-term unemployed workers, according to a separate report made available on Tuesday.

Hutchinson said new data show only 39 percent of Washington employees who lost benefits between July 2008 and December 2013 are now employed. Of those, 53 percent are male and 47 percent are female. About 28 percent are in the 55- to 64-year-old age bracket and 20 percent of them have earned a four-year bachelor’s degree.

Hutchinson said success in finding jobs sometimes depends on where the individuals are searching. It’s easier to find employment in the Seattle area, where February’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent. But the jobs get fewer and farther between in the outlying rural communities and smaller cities, such as Vancouver.

“The Puget Sound economy is booming and the rest of the state isn’t,” Hutchinson said.

Jobless rate by county, February 2014

Source: Washington Employment Security Department