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News / Business / Clark County Business

Labor report finds job growth in Clark County in rental, leasing; it’s up 9% since July ’22

Expert says pay for certain positions up 20 percent since 2019

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: August 30, 2023, 6:07am

As job growth continued upward in July, some industries have seen especially high growth in the past year.

Real estate, rental and leasing is such an industry. It’s added more than 300 jobs since July 2022, an increase of 9.1 percent.

The growth, however, likely hasn’t been seen among real estate agents and those jobs related to selling and buying real estate. With sales slowing locally, those in the industry expect the number of people involved in that business to be on the decline.

However, job growth in the other side of industry — rental and leasing — is booming.

“I would say the increase in real estate development just in general has created a lot of opportunities within the sector,” said Richard Baird, recruiting and talent strategy manager at TMG Family of Cos. TMG Property Management Services is a subsidiary, so Baird is involved in recruiting people for that company.

“Last year, it really kind of took off,” said Baird. Before the pandemic, back in 2019, Baird would be busy trying to fill around seven or eight positions at a time. Now, he has 20 to fill, though that’s unusually high even for the current economy.

Traditionally, hiring in the leasing and rental industry has been seasonal, with an uptick in the summer.

“I don’t know that it’s going to be seasonal anymore because demand is so high,” said Baird. He’s looking for experienced property managers, maintenance technicians and leasing agents.

“The demand for that skill set has gone up so much that wages have increased a lot,” said Baird. How much? Baird estimates they’ve risen around 20 percent for maintenance technicians since 2019.

“There’s kind of a pandemic-induced skill gap,” said Baird. “A lot of people that could retire, retired early.”

Overall, the county added 800 seasonally adjusted jobs in July, according to the latest jobs report from the Washington Employment Security Department. Total employment is estimated to be around 188,600. Construction; retail; professional and business services; health care and social assistance; and leisure and hospitality all saw modest gains since June, according to the report.

The summer months typically see education-related layoffs, which was seen again this year. Around 800 were laid off in private education, state government and K-12 education.

The other industries that have grown faster than average since July 2022 were art, recreation and entertainment; business services; health care and social assistance; accommodation and food services; federal government; corporate offices; professional services; private education services and local government.

Construction, mining and logging; state government, information services, transportation services, retail trade and K-12 education grew around the average amount for all industries over the past 12 months. Wholesale trade, finance and insurance didn’t change, while manufacturing declined 1.3 percent since July of last year.

According to the report, the county has gained 16,700 jobs since the onset of the pandemic in February 2020. Jobs have grown faster here than at the national and the state levels, as well as faster than in Oregon, Portland metro’s area and Seattle’s metro area. It also beats out every other labor market in the state.

“The Southwest Washington labor market continues to be in relatively good shape,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist with the Washington Employment Security Department.

The county’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in July, nearly a percent lower than it was in July 2022. There were around 8,900 people unemployed in the county.

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