Clark County expanded its employment by 6,000 jobs in 2015 and saw the unemployment rate drop to 6 percent, from last December’s 7.3 percent, in the latest good economic news from the state Employment Security Department.
The department’s monthly report for December, released Tuesday, notes that the county added 500 jobs in the month, or 400 jobs when adjusted for seasonal variations. In unadjusted numbers, increases were led by retail jobs, as expected during the holidays, while construction and business services both lost jobs, also as expected, in the winter season.
The 6,000 jobs added for all of 2015 represented job growth of 4.1 percent. That’s compared to a 1.9 percent growth rate for the nation, 2.5 percent for the state, 3.1 percent for Oregon, and 3.3 percent for the Portland-metro area.
“Diversified job creation continued to be the norm,” wrote Scott Bailey, regional economist for the Employment Security Department, in his monthly report. Leading the pack were trade, transportation and utilities, adding 1,500 jobs for a 5.4 percent one-year increase; construction and mining, 1,000 jobs for a 10.1 percent increase; and leisure and hospitality with 800 new jobs, or a 6.1 percent increase.
Other employment categories showing strength last year were information and financial services, 700 new jobs; professional and business services, 700 jobs; and education and health services, 500 jobs.
Manufacturing employment, a laggard throughout 2015, managed to hold its own with 13,000 jobs, unchanged from the beginning of the year.
Government payrolls increased by 600 jobs, with 400 of those jobs in K-12 education.
The unemployment rate was estimated at 6.0 percent. While that preliminary unemployment rate is 1.3 percent lower than in December 2014, it’s up from the revised 5.6 percent unemployment in November.
Bailey said indicators of strong employment remain robust.
“Both initial and continued unemployment claims remained at very low levels,” he noted.
Clark County now has 152,900 people in its full-time and part-time workforce, including 127,900 who work in the private sector. For the year, the private sector added 5,400 of the county’s 6,000 new jobs.