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Monday, February 26, 2024
Feb. 26, 2024

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Clark County continues to add jobs with arts and entertainment sector jumping by 15%

By , Columbian staff writer

As Clark County added 1,500 more jobs in June than it had in May, the area’s arts and entertainment sector saw a whopping 15 percent growth in employment compared with last year.

Those numbers, which are unadjusted, are from the Washington Employment Security Department’s latest jobs report.

“The arts and culture sector is coming back,” said Igor Shakhman, chief executive director of the Vancouver Symphony. “Audiences are returning to live performances.”

The sector added 300 jobs since June 2022 and 100 since May, according to the jobs report from regional economist Scott Bailey.

The number of both indoor and outdoor performances is increasing, requiring more staff to keep up with increased demands, said Shakhman.

For the symphony, the inaugural Vancouver Arts and Music Festival is an example of increased demand calling for more staff. But it’s not limited to this.

“I am definitely seeing more job postings in the arts sector in this area,” added Shakhman.

The Clark County Fair and Event Center is hiring around 250 employees for the Clark County Fair in August, according to the event center’s finance director, Catie Koenig.

Koenig’s team started hiring in June and expects to wrap up hiring this week. This isn’t a dramatic increase in staff for the fair, however. The event returned to relative normalcy last summer.

“We are hiring about the same as last year,” added Koenig.

The employers represented in the arts, entertainment and recreation category include performing and visual arts, museums, private-sector gambling and gaming, theme parks and amusement centers, county fairs, sports facilities and sports teams.

The sector took a big hit during the pandemic and has since remained one of the few in Clark County to not fully return to pre-pandemic employment levels.

“As of June, the industry was still 200 jobs short of recovery,” said Bailey.

Last year, the county averaged 141 jobs in performing and visual arts and 26 at museums. All of the other jobs in the sector totaled 1,833.

“The latter group was where most of the job loss has been,” said Bailey.

Overall, the region’s job numbers have been strong.

“The Southwest Washington labor market continued to be in relatively good shape,” said Bailey, noting that Cowlitz County saw a record low unemployment rate last month. Clark County’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.1 percent, the lowest rate since December 1999.

County employers typically hire around 800 jobs seasonally, including in areas like construction and restaurants. According to Bailey’s preliminary estimates for June, the county added 700 jobs beyond that seasonal expectation.

“That was due to pure economic growth,” said Bailey.

Each of Clark County’s major employment sectors reported positive employment growth, compared with one year ago.

Employment in construction; manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; information; financial services; professional and business services; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services and government all grew since June 2022.