The local job market is growing beyond pre-COVID levels, according to new data released by the Washington Employment Security Department on Tuesday.
“We’re beyond recovery and into expansion,” said Scott Bailey, the department’s regional economist for Southwest Washington.
Seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment rose by 600 jobs last month, bringing the total number of jobs in Clark County to 174,800 — a record high. The leisure and hospitality sector had the most gain last month, 300 jobs, bringing it about even with pre-COVID levels.
Four sectors added 200 jobs each: construction, trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, and education and health services, according to Bailey.
A few industries are still lagging, including state and local government (down 300 jobs since the pandemic) and K-12 education (down 600 jobs since the pandemic). The worst-performing sector — arts, entertainment and recreation services — is still 500 jobs behind pre-pandemic levels.
Clark County’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent last month; a year ago, it was 6.3 percent. Over a year, Clark County has gained 9,000 jobs, a 5.4 percent increase.
Unadjusted, March had an increase of 1,300 jobs.
Next month, the state will release revised data for the first three months of the year. Bailey said he expects local job numbers to be revised upward.
“It may be doing better than we thought,” Bailey said.