For the third consecutive month, Clark County’s unemployment rate was below the 5 percent mark, according to a Tuesday report from the state Employment Security Department. The rate was 4.9 percent.
Unemployment rate isn’t a perfect measurement for economic health because it doesn’t factor in people who don’t actively look for work, but it indicates things are moving in the right direction, said regional economist Scott Bailey.
“It’s a good sign that we’ve drawn a lot of people into the workforce (and) continue to have strong job growth. Even people who have been out of the workforce now have more of a shot at getting a job,” he said.
“If it keeps up, eventually we might see more wage growth.”
Besides the unemployment rate, July aligned with recent labor market trends. Clark County added 1,300 jobs, when adjusted for seasonal trends.
Without factoring in the trends, though, it was still a good hiring month for some sectors. Construction added 500 jobs in July, followed by 200 hired in professional and business services. The trio of manufacturing, trade and information and financial services each added 100 jobs.
Public jobs took the biggest hit, indicative of summer layoffs, Bailey said. Education and government fell by 400 and 900 jobs, respectively, according to the report.
“Teaching staff stays year-round, but classified staff, a lot of them get basically laid off for the summer,” Bailey said.
For the year, Clark County has added 6,900 jobs, good for a 4.4 percent growth.
That growth is higher than in the U.S., at 1.5 percent, Washington, at 2.6 percent; Oregon, at 3.1 percent; and the whole of the Vancouver-Portland metropolitan area, at 3.3 percent.
Construction and mining added 1,300 jobs over the year. Leisure and hospitality added at least 1,300, as well, though that figure does not include hundreds of jobs at Ilani Casino Resort.
The Vancouver-Portland metropolitan area continues to grow, according to the Oregon Employment Department.
The metro area added 3,000 jobs in July, seasonally adjusted. Its manufacturing sector has added jobs for six consecutive months.