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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Sept. 26, 2023

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Clark County job market shows strong growth, outstrips gains in Seattle, Portland

By , Columbian staff writer

Clark County has added 11,400 jobs since the onset of pandemic in February 2020 — a 6.7 percent increase that has outpaced employment rate increases in Portland and Seattle, as well as in Oregon and Washington — and the United States as a whole.

That’s according to the latest labor report released by the Washington Employment Security Department.

“It was another strong report,” regional economist Scott Bailey said. “Clark County has had just really good employment growth throughout the recovery.”

The employment department showed a county labor force of 250,628, with 241,046 of them employed. With 9,582 people unemployed, that’s a nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.8 percent.

In July, the county added 800 nonfarm jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Business services added 300 jobs and social assistance added 200 jobs.

There was a reduction of 300 jobs in state government after summer school layoffs and 500 jobs in elementary, middle and high school education.

Over the course of the year, total employment is up 4.6 percent.

“There are a number of industries that had really solid growth over the last year,” said Bailey.

Bailey pointed to the professional services industry, which has many high paying professional jobs. That sector added 600 jobs, a 6.2 percent rate of growth over the last year.

Another industry that saw strong growth was business services, the sector encompassing temp agencies. This has seen a 16.5 percent increase in the last year.

“Anytime there’s hiring at temp agencies, it’s usually a good sign for the labor market,” Bailey said. “If there’s any sign of a downturn coming, employers will first stop hiring temps and then start layoffs. So, the fact that that’s strong is a good sign.”

Two of the private sector industries that were hardest hit by the pandemic, restaurants and hotels are making a comeback, with hotel accommodations lagging just a bit. Arts, entertainment and recreation are still pretty far behind where they were, said Bailey.