Vancouver, WA’s Clark County continues to see rapid jobs growth

    Unemployment fell to 4.9% in May and June, lowest since 2000.

    If the cranes rising around downtown Vancouver haven’t been a big enough signal, the latest labor market report from the state might bring it to eye level.

    June was a big hiring month, and unemployment matched May’s revised figure of 4.9 percent, the lowest it’s been in Clark County since September 2000, according to a Tuesday report from the state Employment Security Department.

    “It’s a good month again. Pretty diverse job growth, very strong overall,” said regional economist Scott Bailey. He noted the two cranes in downtown Vancouver, and that there is a third one going up in August.

    “When’s the last time we had three cranes?” he said.

    Clark County added 1,200 jobs in June, adjusted for seasonal trends. And the unemployment rate, as noted by Bailey, is below 5 percent for the first time this century. (The report released revised statistics for May, now showing it also had a 4.9 percent unemployment rate.)

    In June 2016, the rate was 6.5 percent.

    Bailey noted that the unemployment rate isn’t a perfect barometer of economic health.

    “That’s because, especially in these times, there are still people who maybe dropped out of the workforce who aren’t back in. It doesn’t measure that end of it,” he said.

    Still, the unemployment rate and the report as a whole paint a healthy picture for Clark County. Hiring went into a lull somewhat during the winter but has rebounded in the last four months.

    Construction, manufacturing, trade and transportation each added 300 jobs in June alone. Another trio of sectors — business and professional services; leisure and hospitality; and government — each added 200 jobs.

    Those figures don’t adjust for seasonal trends, such as the growth the construction industry expects every summer.

    For the year, job growth is at 5,300 jobs, or 3.4 percent. The growth is higher than in the U.S., at 1.6 percent; Washington, at 2.5 percent; Oregon, at 2.9 percent; and the whole of the Vancouver-Portland metropolitan area, at 2.6 percent.

    The metro area is still growing. According to the Oregon Employment Department, the metropolitan area added 7,600 jobs in June even accounting for seasonal trends; and the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

    The metropolitan area encompasses seven counties across northern Oregon and Southwest Washington.

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