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News / Business / Clark County Business

Clark County industries continue to add jobs

Report: Employment gains outperform state and Portland metro area

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 24, 2023, 5:17pm

Over the past 12 months, most Clark County industries have added jobs, according to the latest report for September. But not all. Corporate offices have seen a decline in numbers in the past year.

The latest employment report from consulting economist Scott Bailey showed that the county added jobs last month, though at a slower rate than in previous months.

“Labor markets in Southwest Washington continued to look good,” Bailey said in a report analyzing the latest Washington Employment Security Department jobs data.

Corporate offices

Since September 2022, the county’s industries have largely seen employment numbers rise.

Arts, entertainment and recreation; business services; real estate, rental and leasing; private education services; local government; accommodation and food services; professional services; health care and social assistance; construction, mining and logging all have seen faster than average growth.

The only industry that has lost jobs since last year was corporate offices, which includes jobs based at corporate and regional headquarters.

Other services; state government; federal government; information services; K-12 public education; transportation services; finance and insurance; wholesale trade; retail trade and manufacturing added jobs at or below the average.

The fact that corporate offices have seen job losses isn’t a total shock. A number of businesses headquartered in the county announced layoffs or relocations in the past year. ZoomInfo laid off 120 employees companywide, while Absci laid off 30. PeaceHealth laid off 99 people from its Shared Service Center and many others across its network. Nautilus laid off 15 percent of its employees in February and Fisher Investments moved its headquarters from Camas in March.

September numbers

The county added 200 jobs in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, Bailey said. The annual start-of-school-year employment boom drove the county’s unadjusted employment up 1,300 jobs. About 189,500 people were working in the county last month.

Besides the surge in education-related jobs, professional services and arts, entertainment and recreation also saw employment increases. Professional services added 300 positions, while arts, entertainment and recreation added 200.

“Other changes at the industry level were small,” Bailey said.

The county continues to see employment gains since the pandemic, having added 17,200 net jobs since February 2020. The 10.1 percent increase surpassed the gains made nationwide, statewide, in Oregon, in the Portland metro area and in the Seattle area. According to Bailey, it also surpassed every other labor market in the state.

“Every sector has fully recovered,” Bailey said.

The county’s unemployment rate was about 3.6 percent in September, down from the 4.4 percent it was in September of last year. According to Bailey, it was the lowest unemployment rate for a September since 1997.