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June 1, 2020

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Clark County labor market continues to make gains

By , Columbian Port & Economy Reporter
Published:

Clark County’s labor market expanded by 6,300 jobs in the 12 months through September, the region’s labor economist reported Tuesday, while the region’s estimated unemployment rate dipped to 5.7 percent — the lowest it’s been since November 2007.

The year-over-year increase in jobs translated to an annualized growth rate of 4.3 percent, according to Scott Bailey, regional labor economist for the state Employment Security Department. It’s a rate that surpassed the nation’s (2 percent), outstripped those of Washington and Oregon (2.8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively) and topped the Portland metro area’s 3.6 percent.

As part of the year-over-year growth in payrolls, the county added 400 jobs — adjusted for seasonal factors — from August to September. As the county’s labor market “continued to improve in September,” wrote Bailey in his monthly update, “unemployment continued to decline.”

The county posted an estimated jobless rate of 5.7 percent in September. That’s more than a point below the 7 percent unemployment the county recorded in September 2014. “This was the lowest rate since November 2007,” Bailey wrote.

Meanwhile, the three sectors that had been generating the most jobs have shifted. Trade, transportation and utilities (up 1,300 jobs over the year) continued to lead the pack, while professional and business services (up 500 jobs), and education and health services (up 500 jobs) have slowed.

“Picking up the slack,” according to Bailey, were construction and mining (up 1,100 jobs), leisure and hospitality (up 800 jobs) and financial services (up 700 positions). The manufacturing sector “improved,” Bailey wrote, adding a net 600 jobs over the year. That net gain came despite the loss of 300 positions in one of manufacturing’s subsectors: transportation equipment.

Altogether, every major job sector in Clark County experienced year-over-year gains. Information services “edged back into the black” with an additional 100 jobs, Bailey wrote, and government expanded by 600 jobs. All of the job gains in the public sector occurred in local government and K-12 education.

Meanwhile, initial claims for unemployment insurance “were unchanged over the month,” according to Bailey, “while continued claims dipped to their lowest level on record (going back to 2006).”

Clark County’s labor market report for October, including payroll and unemployment figures, is slated for release Nov. 24.

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