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News / Business / Clark County Business

Clark County adds more jobs that expected in May, with construction leading the pack

County's jobs recovery since pandemic beats state, Oregon and national metric

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 23, 2023, 1:42pm

Clark County added 300 more jobs than usual in May, coming on the tail of a job loss in April.

The number, released in the latest labor report from the Washington Department for Employment Security, is seasonally adjusted.

“We still have a fairly tight labor market with low unemployment and good job growth,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist with the department.

On an unadjusted basis, the county added 1,200 jobs in May, bringing total employment to an estimated 187,000 jobs.

The industries that gained the most jobs locally in May were construction, which added 500 jobs; retail, which added 300; accommodations and food, which added 200; and business services, which added 200.

Statewide, Washington’s economy added 2,900 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis.

According to the report, Clark County employs 15,700 more people than it did in February 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. That 9.2 increase blew past the recovery metric for all but one of Washington’s other labor markets, as well as the nation, the state, Oregon and the Seattle metro area. The only Washington county that has added more jobs in that time is Adams County.

The two industries in Clark County that haven’t seen jobs numbers recover since the pandemic are arts, entertainment and recreation, which is still down 200 jobs; and government, which is down 600.

Over the last 12 months, the county added 6,000 jobs and 12 industries have grown faster than average — private education; arts, entertainment and recreation; real estate, rental and leasing; professional services; local government, except education; federal government; health care and social assistance; corporate offices; other services; and accommodations and food services.

The five industries that have added jobs at or below the average include business services; state government; information services; construction, mining and logging; wholesale trade and retail.

Only four industries have lost jobs or saw no change. Those are transportation services; finance and insurance; and K-12 education, which all saw no change. Local manufacturing lost 100 jobs since last May.

The county’s unemployment rate for May was an estimated 3.2 percent, well below the 4.4 percent rate a year ago. It was the lowest unemployment rate since December 1999, when it was 3.1 percent. The lowest on record was 2.9 percent in the fall of 1997.

There were about 8,000 Clark County residents unemployed in May, 25 percent lower than there were a year ago.

The state’s unemployment rate also fell from 4.3 percent in April to 4.1 percent in May. The nationwide unemployment rate rose in May to 3.7 percent from 3.4 percent in April.