It’s no surprise that employment in Clark County held steady in February. The data, released Tuesday, likely will be the starting point for measuring substantial employment drops in the coming months.
Scott Bailey, the state’s regional labor economist for Southwest Washington, said the impact of the novel coronavirus on monthly employment data won’t be fully revealed in the data until April, though the first inkling will show starting in March’s numbers.
“The COVID-19 virus … will likely have little impact on March employment and unemployment, since these measures are based on the pay period covering the 12th of the month, the week before most layoffs began,” Bailey wrote in a news release.
The data from the Washington Employment Security Department showed that Clark County had about no change in seasonally adjusted jobs in February compared with February 2019. The county had its expected 400-job increase.
“That’s average for this time of year,” Bailey said. “Seasonally adjusted, nothing changed.”
In the calm before the storm, Clark County had 170,400 jobs for February. Construction added about 100 jobs, financial services added about 200 jobs, and leisure and hospitality added about 200. Those numbers were mostly offset by retail trade, which lost about 400 jobs, expected from normal cutbacks following the winter holiday season.
The largest drop in the county employment numbers came in December 2008, when 1,500 jobs were cut, amounting to a minus 1.1 percent decrease in Clark County. Bailey said that he expects April to have a larger drop.
“That would blow right past that one-month drop record,” he said. “I’m expecting that.”