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News / Business / Clark County Business

Clark County showing good job growth

Most industries added jobs in February, regional economist says: ‘Still all systems go’

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 30, 2023, 6:00am

Clark County added 600 seasonally adjusted jobs in February, according to the latest employment numbers released from the Washington Employment Security Department.

Unadjusted employment, meanwhile, rose by 1,400 over the month, bringing total employment to 184,500.

The county continues to have good job growth and a strong labor market, said regional economist Scott Bailey: “Still all systems go.”

According to Bailey, most industries added jobs in February. Government added 400 jobs, which were divided by federal, state and local governments and K-12 education. Education and health services increased by 300 jobs. Professional and business services gained 200 jobs.

Information services, however, didn’t add any jobs. And trade, transportation and utilities saw a decrease of 100 jobs, which Bailey attributed to the completion of holiday layoffs in retail trade.

According to the department’s most recent data, Clark County, Cowlitz County and Wahkiakum County are among the fastest-growing counties in the state.

12 industries lead way

Compared with last February, 12 industries have grown faster than the average for all industries, said Bailey. Professional services added 1,100 jobs; private education services added 200; information services added 300; wholesale trade added 500; other services added 400; arts, entertainment and recreation added 100; health care and social assistance added 1,400; construction, mining and logging added 800; finance and insurance added 300; and accommodations and food services added 600.

The industries that added jobs at a slower-than-average pace were business services, which added 300; state government, which added 100; local government except education, which added 200; federal government, which added 100; transportation services, which added 100; and K-12 education, which added 100.

Manufacturing; real estate, rental and leasing; and retail trade all had no change or saw a decline.

The county has seen an increase in employment of 9.5 percent since the onset of the COVID pandemic in February 2020. That’s significantly higher than the gains made nationwide, at the state level, in Oregon, in the Seattle metro area and in the Portland metro area.

“It was also better than any labor market in the state,” Bailey said in his monthly employment report.

The only sectors still not recovered from the pandemic are arts, entertainment and recreation, which is still down 200 jobs, and government, which is down 950 jobs.

Statewide, Washington gained an estimated 15,300 jobs, seasonally adjusted, in February. Professional and business services; education and health services; government; leisure and hospitality; and information were the industries with the most growth.

The state’s monthly unemployment rate remained constant at 4.6 percent in February.

“The downward slide in hiring momentum that emerged late last year has stabilized,” state economist Paul Turek with the Washington Employment Security Department said in a statement to the press. “Payroll employment growth over the fourth quarter has been revised upward, and strong job gains occurred these past two months.”

The county’s monthly unemployment rate is up to an estimated 6.1 percent, more than a point higher than where it was last February at 5 percent. There are around 15,900 people unemployed here, 28 percent more than the 12,400 unemployed at this time last year.

Bailey pointed out in his monthly employment report that there were 2,396 Clark County residents who filed a continued unemployment claim in February, which is about the same as the month before. That’s 29 percent more than in February 2022, however. The figure was 2,573 in February 2020.

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