Clark County economy adds 5,800 jobs over 12 months

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian Port & Economy Reporter

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County by county breakdown of jobless stats for August 2014. Click on the county for more data.

Clark County’s economy expanded by 5,800 jobs in the 12 months ending in August, the region’s labor economist reported Tuesday, posting a growth rate of 4.2 percent and recording a preliminary unemployment rate of 7 percent.

Driving more than 60 percent of the year-over-year employment gains were “the big three,” as Scott Bailey, regional labor economist for the state Employment Security Department, put it in his report: trade, transportation and utilities (up 1,500 jobs), professional and business services (plus 1,200 jobs) and construction (up 1,000 positions).

The county’s annualized growth rate of 4.2 percent more than doubled that of the nation’s (1.8 percent), easily topped those of Washington and Oregon (2.5 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively) and surpassed that of the Portland metro area (3 percent).

In Clark County, all but one employment sector showed a net gain in jobs over the year, according to Bailey’s analysis. Education and health services added 800 jobs; government added 400 jobs; information grew by 300 positions; financial services chipped in 300 jobs; and leisure and hospitality gained 200 jobs.

The county’s manufacturing sector saw no change over the year.

As Clark County’s economy has grown, the region’s unemployment rate has steadily improved. The county’s preliminary jobless rate in August clocked in at 7 percent. That’s down from 9.9 percent unemployment in August 2013. However, August’s initial jobless rate of 7 percent “will likely be revised upward” next month, according to Bailey.

The revision would take into account those unemployed county residents who previously worked in Oregon. Clark County’s preliminary jobless rate of 6.3 percent in July was revised upward by 0.5 of a percentage point to 6.8 percent. Other signs show the county’s labor market is strengthening:

“Initial unemployment claims and continued unemployment claims continue to be at low levels,” according to Bailey.