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News / Business / Clark County Business

Numbers point to reliance on residential development in Clark County

County a bedroom community with too few local jobs

By Jeffrey Mize, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 26, 2019, 6:04am

Clark County has been successful in growing jobs, but many of those gains are offset by increases in the number of households.

Statistics bear out why Clark County remains a bedroom community with not enough jobs for its 481,857 residents.

Jobs to households: In 1990, the county’s jobs-to-households ratio was 0.84, meaning there were 84 jobs for every 100 households. Since then, the county’s ratio has improved slightly, reaching 90 jobs for every 100 households in 2017, but it’s still lower than the other three counties in the Portland-Vancouver area. Multnomah County’s ratio was 1.55 in 2017, followed by Washington County at 1.33 and Clackamas County at 1.03. Among Washington’s 10 most populous counties, Clark County ranked ninth for its jobs-to-households ratio, topping only Kitsap County.

Out-of-state commuting: The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 63,689 county residents worked in a different state in 2016. That number has fluctuated with economic conditions, but about one-third of the county’s workforce continues to commute to Oregon jobs. For 2017, the Oregon Department of Revenue reported receiving 74,139 tax returns from Clark County.

Oregon tax returns from Clark County

NOTE: The number of returns includes joint returns where one or both people work in Oregon and does not necessarily reflect actual number of Clark County commuters to Oregon jobs.

2017: 74,139

2016: 69,465

2015: 72,087

2010: 57,266

2005: 60,134

2000: 55,013

1995: 43,498

1990: 36,038

1985: 26,297

1980: 25,306

SOURCE: Oregon Department of Revenue

Taxes paid to Oregon: Back in 1980, when only one automobile bridge connected Clark County to Portland, county residents paid $16 million in Oregon income taxes, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue. In 2017, they paid $221.3 million in Oregon income taxes, an eye-popping 1,281 percent increase in slightly more than 35 years. During that same period, Clark County’s population grew by 145 percent.

Assessed values: According to data assembled by the Washington State Department of Revenue, Clark County was the seventh most lopsided county for single-family residential as a percentage of total assessed value among Washington’s 39 counties. In 2016, single-family residential accounted for 74.1 percent of the county’s assessed value. Most of the other six counties above Clark — Island, San Juan, Jefferson, Mason, Kitsap and Chelan — cater to high-income residents and retirees in the Puget Sound region.

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Numbers point to reliance on residential development in Clark County: County a bedroom community with too few local jobs

• Residential land is pricey to service: It requires $1.16 in services for every $1 generated by taxes

Columbian staff reporter