September another month of job growth in Clark County

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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September is the month of change, unless you’re talking about monthly economic updates. Then, it’s more of the same growth we’ve come to expect this year.

According to the latest report from the state Employment Securities Department, Clark County added 300 jobs this month, seasonally adjusted. Unadjusted, the county added 2,300 jobs, most of which were spurred by education-related hirings as the school year kicked off.

Regional economist Scott Bailey said Clark County continues to reap the benefits from robust economic activity in the Pacific Northwest.

“Compared to the rest of the country, the Pacific Northwest is doing reasonably well on all sorts of levels, and that just rubs off on us as being part of that,” he said.

That has been the story of 2016, by and large, but Clark County is actually outpacing many of its neighbors. Clark County added 6,400 jobs, good for a 4.2 percent growth, this year. Nationwide employment grew 1.7 percent, the state of Washington grew 2.9 percent, Oregon grew 3.3 percent and the Portland metro area grew 2.6 percent.

Another statistic to note is the unemployment rate fell from 6.6 percent in August to 6.0 percent in September. Unemployment was 5.7 percent this time last year, though that’s more reflective of more people entering the workforce, Bailey said.

The sectors that saw growth spurts over the past month included the education sector, which hired about 2,000 employees in conjunction with the start of the school year. The transportation services sector expanded by about 200 jobs. Arts, entertainment and recreation jobs rose by 500, though that number will drop similarly next month, Bailey said.

Just about all major employment sectors have grown in Clark County this year. The biggest gains have come in construction, mining and logging, which grew 13.3 percent in 2016 by adding 1,500 jobs. The professional and business services sector grew 8.6 percent by adding 1,600 jobs, and the financial services sector grew by 7.5 percent with 600 jobs. The information services sector lost about 100 jobs from last year.