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Sunday, December 3, 2023
Dec. 3, 2023

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May ‘another strong month’ for county job growth

By , Columbian Port & Economy Reporter

Clark County’s labor market posted “another strong month” in May, the region’s labor economist reported Tuesday, with 1,800 jobs — unadjusted for seasonal factors — coming on line since April.

The county also experienced solid job gains over the year, according to Scott Bailey, regional labor economist for the state Employment Security Department, in his analysis released Tuesday. In the 12 months ending in May, the county added 5,600 jobs and posted an annualized growth rate of 3.9 percent.

To be sure, the growth rate “was a bit slower than the past year due to several factors,” Bailey wrote, including the closure of the Nordstrom store at Vancouver Westfield mall and the decline of employment at Christensen Shipyards, the financially troubled builder of yachts in Vancouver.

Still, the county’s 3.9 percent growth rate is nothing to sniff at. It surpassed the nation’s (2.2 percent), topped those of Washington and Oregon (3.6 percent and 3 percent, respectively) and eclipsed the Portland metro area (3.3 percent). In a phone interview Tuesday, Bailey said there’s been a long economic expansion, including “jumps and bumps” along the way. “It tends to moderate as it goes along,” he said. In any case, he added, a 3.9 percent growth rate is “still pretty strong.”

As the region’s labor market has added jobs, the unemployment rate has gradually come down. Although the county’s estimated unemployment rate in May — 6.6 percent — was “not statistically different” from April’s 6.3 percent, Bailey wrote in his analysis, May’s jobless rate “was more than a point lower than the 7.7 percent from a year earlier.” In Clark County, the three big industries for generating jobs, over the year, were: professional and business services (up 1,200 positions); education and health services (up 1,000 jobs); and trade, transportation and utilities (up 700 jobs).

Manufacturing mixed

In the manufacturing sector, a number of segments added jobs over the year including fabricated metals, electronics and food products, according to Bailey. However, most of the gain was offset by a loss of 300 jobs in transportation equipment, leaving the sector with a net gain, over the year, of 100 positions.

Nevertheless, every major employment sector in Clark County was, once again, up over the year. That included construction and natural resources (up 700 jobs); finance (up 500 positions); information services (up 100 jobs); leisure and hospitality (up 600 jobs) and government (up 300 jobs).

Clark County’s labor market report for June, including payroll and unemployment figures, is slated for release July 21.

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