Chelan and Douglas County profiles

Washington state map with Chelan and Douglas counties highlightedby Don Meseck, regional labor economist - updated December 2017

Overview | Geographic facts | Outlook | Labor force and unemployment | Industry employment | Wages and income | Population | Useful links|  PDF Profile copy

Overview

Regional context

Chelan and Douglas counties are on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains and are separated by the Columbia River. Chelan and Douglas counties have a very diverse geographic area that includes mountains and lakes and flat areas next to the Columbia River. The varied terrain supports the two major industries in the area, tourism and agriculture.

The legislature created Chelan County in 1899, carving it out of Okanogan and Kittitas counties. Wenatchee is its county seat.

Douglas County is close to the geographic center of the state. Douglas County was created in 1883, named after U.S. Senator Steven Douglas of Illinois who was the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Territories when the Territory of Washington was created. Waterville is the county seat.

Chelan County ranks third in the state in land area while Douglas County ranks 17th. Both counties are sparsely populated as measured by persons per square mile.

Local economy

The first people of the area now known as Chelan and Douglas counties were tribes whose culture and economy centered on fishing and hunting and gathering. The Yakima Treaty of 1855 removed 10.8 million acres from the indigenous people’s title to the land. The result was war throughout the territory and eventual movement of tribes to the Colville Reservation.

Trappers and Chinese gold prospectors were among the first non-Indians who lived in the area in the early 1800s. White settlers followed, beginning in the 1870s. Irrigation along with railroads spurred agricultural development in Chelan County, particularly fruit orchards. Now grape vines are replacing some fruit orchards, driving development in wineries.

The Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes both Chelan and Douglas counties, depends heavily upon agriculture as well as seasonal employment in retail and leisure and hospitality. Agriculture tends to be the economic force for the area and it specifically revolves around various tree fruit that includes apples, cherries, pears and peaches. Wineries are playing an increasing role in both agriculture and in tourism. Agricultural employment directly links to nonfarm employment through nondurable goods manufacturing (i.e. food processing), wholesale trade (i.e. fresh fruit packinghouses) and transportation.

Chelan County is on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain range in central Washington. Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in the country. With its nearly year-round sunshine, it has developed into an all-season outdoor recreational destination. Agriculture is a dominant industry in Chelan County with 23.1 percent of total covered employment in 2016, followed by private health services with 13.8 percent of total covered employment. In addition to agriculture, tourism plays a large part in the local economy with two very popular areas for the state: Lake Chelan and Leavenworth. Lake Chelan is a great tourist area in the summer. Leavenworth provides year-round tourism with a Bavarian-themed village that hosts an Oktoberfest festival and has multiple ski resorts very close to town.

Agriculture in Douglas County, as in neighboring Chelan County, is a pillar of the economy with 25.9 percent of total covered employment in 2016 followed by local government (public school districts, public utility districts, police and fire departments, etc.) with 15.0 percent of covered employment. Many of Douglas County’s nonfarm industries such as food manufacturing/processing, warehousing and shipping, transportation (trucking) etc. are heavily dependent on the fortunes of agriculture and define much of the local industry makeup. Also, a regional retail hub is found in East Wenatchee, the largest city in Douglas County, which features North Central Washington’s largest shopping mall.

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Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Chelan County Douglas County Washington state
 Land area, 2010 (square miles) 2,920.53  1,819.26  66,455.52 
 Persons per square mile, 2010 24.8  21.1  101.2 

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Outlook

The Employment Security Department’s long-term (i.e. ten-year) nonfarm employment projections produced by the Employment Security Department are for a 1.6 percent average annual growth rate from 2015-2025 for the five-county North Central Workforce Development Area or WDA (i.e., Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties) and for a 1.5 percent growth rate for Washington state.

One substantial, negative economic event may complicate these official local employment projections, however. Chelan County lost one of its highest paying businesses - Alcoa’s aluminum smelter in Malaga in January 2016. The Wenatchee World newspaper reported that January 5th was the last day of work for “all but a handful of the 428 employees at Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works smelter.” In 2015, wages in manufacturing totaled $106.3 million, or 6.8 percent of total covered payroll ($1.57 billion) countywide and 5.0 percent (2,142 jobs) of total covered employment (42,834). Washington State Employment Security Department Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data show that in 2015 the average annual wage for a manufacturing job in Chelan County was $49,616 while the average annual wage for a job in the primary metal manufacturing subsector was $81,766 – quite a pay difference from the average wage for total covered employment of $36,765. The loss of these jobs will be felt throughout the local economy. In fact, by 2016, the average annual wage for a manufacturing job in Chelan County had fallen to $44,189, a 10.9 percent drop from the average annual manufacturing wage in 2015. The number of manufacturing jobs in Chelan County fell 7.6 percent, from 2,142 jobs in 2015 to 1,980 in 2016. The short story is that the idling of this smelter will likely exert downward pressure on job and payroll growth rates in the years ahead.

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Labor force and unemployment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

Current labor force and unemployment statistics are available on the Labor area summaries page.

Unemployment rates in the Wenatchee MSA (Chelan and Douglas counties) were remarkably consistent in the four-year period from 2005 to 2008 (before the recession). Rates ranged from a low of 5.4 percent in 2007 to a high of 6.0 percent in 2005. This was a relatively narrow range. During the recession, unemployment rates in the Wenatchee MSA increased to 9.2 percent in 2010 before decreasing to 5.9 percent in 2015 (i.e., the pre-recession level of unemployment) and then climbing to 6.3 percent in 2016.

The Wenatchee MSA’s four-tenths of a point unemployment rate rise in 2016 (from 5.9 in 2015 to 6.3 percent in 2016) was certainly not good economic news, especially since Washington state’s unemployment rate dipped two-tenths of a point during this timeframe (from 5.6 percent in 2015 to 5.4 percent in 2016). The idling of the Alcoa’s aluminum smelter in Chelan County in January 2016 and the subsequent layoffs of over 400 workers at this plant certainly helped drive the unemployment rate and the average number of unemployed up in 2016. Also, in Chelan and Douglas Counties the average number of unemployed rose from 3,658 in 2015 to 4,047 in 2016, equating to 389 more residents out of work in this two-county area.

Despite more residents becoming unemployed and the rising unemployment rate, there was a “silver lining to the dark economic cloud” that hung over the Wenatchee MSA in 2016. Specifically, the civilian labor force (CLF) rose by 2,203, from 62,375 in 2015 to 64,578 residents in 2016, a 3.5 percent increase indicating that in 2016 at least some discouraged workers returned to the local labor force. In fact, the labor force has registered year over year growth for the past 24 months (from November 2015 through October 2017). Most recently, the CLF increased 0.4 percent between the Octobers of 2016 and 2017 as 302 more residents entered the two-county MSA’s labor force while the number of unemployed dropped substantially, by 805 residents (down 24.1 percent), helping to dramatically lower the local unemployment rate from 5.0 percent in October 2016 to 3.8 percent in October 2017. The October 2017 unemployment rate for the Wenatchee MSA is the lowest reading for the month of October since electronic records were implemented in 1990 (27 years ago) and marks the twelfth consecutive month (from November 2016 to October 2017) of year over year declines in the local, monthly unemployment rate.

When evaluating recent labor force trends in Chelan and Douglas counties, it is also helpful to look at the bigger picture (i.e., what’s going on in Washington state). Washington's Civilian Labor Force (CLF) expanded by 98,209 residents (a 2.8 percent upturn) from 2015 to 2016. The state’s labor force has increased, year over year, for the past 45 months (February 2014 through October 2017). In October 2017, Washington’s CLF tallied 3,762,673 residents versus 3,681,300 in October 2016 equating to 81,373 more Washingtonians in the labor force (up 2.2 percent).

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Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

Current industry employment statistics are available on the Labor area summaries page.

The analysis in the first part of this “Industry employment” section is derived primarily from Current Employment Statistics (CES) data. One advantage of these data is that the employment information is very current and data are updated monthly using CES employment estimates. However estimates are nonfarm related (i.e., they do not include agricultural employment figures). Also, these data combine employment figures for Chelan and Douglas counties into the two-county Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

The analysis in the second part of this “Industry employment” section are derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage (QCEW) program, conducted by the Washington State Employment Security Department. It takes a little longer to acquire QCEW data, but it is more detailed than CES data and it provides employment, wage and size of firm figures down to the county level. QCEW data include agricultural and nonagricultural employment and wages for firms, organizations and individuals whose employees are covered by the Washington State Employment Security Act. Also included are data for Federal Government agencies covered by Title 5, U.S.C. 85. Covered employment generally exceeds 85 percent of total employment in the state of Washington. Types of jobs not covered under the unemployment compensation system and hence not included in QCEW data include casual laborers not performing duties in the course of the employer’s trade or business; railroad personnel; newspaper delivery people; insurance or real estate agents paid on a commission basis only; non-covered employees working for parochial schools, religious, or non-profit organizations; employees of sheltered workshops; inmates working in penal institutions; non-covered corporate officers; etc.

Analysis using CES data:

Although the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the national recession occurred from December 2007 through June 2009, the effects of this recession hit the Wenatchee MSA labor market primarily in 2009 and 2010. Nonfarm employment in the two-county Wenatchee MSA peaked at an average of 40,200 jobs in 2008, then the recession hit. Since this recession, total nonfarm employment:

  • In 2009 – Total nonfarm employment dropped 3.9 percent (down 1,600 jobs) to an average annual figure of 38,700. An industry that was particularly hard hit during this recession was construction. Approximately 800 construction jobs were lost across the two-county Wenatchee MSA as this industry retrenched from 3,000 jobs (in 2008) to an average of 2,200 (in 2009), a 25.4 percent downturn.
  • In 2010 – Total nonfarm employment slipped to 38,100 jobs, a 500-job and 1.3-percent downturn. The hardest-hit industry in Chelan and Douglas counties between 2009 and 2010 was construction, which shed 300 jobs, a 7.9-percent decrease.
  • In 2011 - The local labor market in the two-county area rebounded to 38,400 jobs, a modest 0.7 percent and 300-job average annual upturn. There were employment fluctuations amongst the major industries in the Wenatchee MSA. But, manufacturing accounted for the lion’s share of job growth, rising from 2,092 jobs (in 2010) to 2,342 (in 2011), a 250-job increase.
  • In 2012 - This 300-job average annual uptrend was duplicated with nonfarm employment advancing to 38,700, a 0.7 percent increase. Trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities contributed most of the new jobs to the local economy during 2012.
  • In 2013- The tempo of job growth improved to 1.5 percent as the Wenatchee MSA netted 600 new nonfarm jobs and employment rose to 39,300. The “mining, logging, and construction” category rose from 1,700 jobs in 2012 to 2,000 in 2013 with most of the employment upturn occurring in construction.
  • In 2014 - The Wenatchee MSA’s nonfarm economy averaged 40,600 a relatively robust 3.4 percent growth pace (slightly more robust than the 2.5 percent growth rate statewide during 2014) as 1,300 new jobs were added to the labor market. Nearly two-thirds of these 1,300 new jobs were in construction (up 300 jobs), health services (up 200 jobs), and leisure and hospitality (up 300 jobs). It took six years for the local nonfarm market to meet and surpass the 2008 employment “peak” of 40,200 jobs; but it finally did so by adding jobs at a modest rates 2011, 2012 and 2013 – with a “strong finish” in 2014.
  • In 2015 - The local economy had another good year, in terms of nonfarm job growth. The MSA’s labor market averaged 42,900 jobs, a strong 5.7 percent average annual growth pace and a 2,300 job expansion over 2014. (Washington’s economy expanded at a 2.9 percent clip in 2015.) The local economy had another good year, in terms of nonfarm job growth. The MSA’s labor market averaged 42,900 jobs, a strong 5.7 percent average annual growth pace and a 2,300 job expansion over 2014. (Washington’s economy expanded at a 2.9 percent clip in 2015.) The industry that generated the most new jobs in 2015 was leisure and hospitality, which, in Chelan and Douglas counties, is comprised primarily of hotels and restaurants. Leisure and hospitality expanded from 5,600 jobs in 2014 to 6,100 in 2015, a 400 job and 7.7 percent increase. Close behind was retail trade which netted 300 more jobs, rising from 5,800 jobs in 2014 to 6,100 in 2015 an advance of 5.0 percent.
  • In 2016 – Although total nonfarm employment in the Wenatchee MSA did not grow as rapidly in 2016 as in 2015, it still had a relatively good year in terms of nonfarm job growth. The MSA’s labor market averaged 44,200 jobs, a 3.1 percent growth pace and a 1,300 job expansion over 2015. Washington’s economy also expanded at a 3.1 percent clip in 2015. The industry that generated the most new jobs in 2016 in the Wenatchee MSA was leisure and hospitality which netted 500 more jobs in 2016 (6,600 jobs) than in 2015 (6,100 jobs).

Although the Wenatchee MSA's economy has expanded during each of the past six years (2011 through 2016, inclusive), the pace of nonfarm job growth cooled between 2015 and 2016, from 5.7 to 3.1 percent, respectively. Although total nonfarm employment in the Wenatchee MSA increased, year over year, in each of the 65 months from June 2012 through September 2017; between the Octobers of 2016 and 2017 (at the time of the preparation of this Profile) employment stagnated at 45,300.

As mentioned earlier, Washington's labor market provided 96,600 new nonfarm jobs in 2016, an annual average increase of 3.1 percent. The most current statewide monthly nonfarm employment estimates indicate that in October 2017, businesses and government organizations across Washington supplied 3,387,600 nonfarm jobs (not seasonally adjusted), compared to 3,281,800 jobs in October 2016, a 3.2 percent year over year employment increase. The state’s economy has been growing, and growing at respectable year over year rates, for the past 85 consecutive months (October 2010 through October 2017). Hence, if there is a “silver lining” to the rather dark economic cloud that has recently hovered (as of October 2017) over the Wenatchee MSA, it is that Washington’s labor market is faring well - and the local economy is interconnected to the state’s economy.

Analysis using QCEW data:

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is an industry classification system that groups businesses/organizations into categories or sectors based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged. There are 19 private sectors and three government sectors (for a total of 22 sectors) at the 2-digit NAICS code level, within each county-level economy. One can observe much about the structure of a county’s economy by quantifying and comparing the number of jobs and the percentage of jobs in these sectors by using annual average Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage (QCEW) data. The most recent average annual employment data available for Chelan County and for Douglas County are for 2016 and these data show:

The top five Chelan County sectors in 2016 in terms of employment were:

 Sector Number of jobs Share of employment
 1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing 9,995  23.1% 
 2. Health services 5,963  13.8% 
 3. Local government 5,122  11.8% 
 4. Accommodation and food services 4,681  10.8% 
 5. Retail trade 4,484  10.4% 
 All other industries 13,025  30.1% 
 Total covered employment 43,270  100% 

Chelan County’s covered employment of 43,270 in 2016 was nearly four times larger than neighboring Douglas County’s covered employment of 11,991 jobs. More than two-thirds of all jobs in Chelan County were in five, two-digit NAICS industries or sectors (i.e., agriculture, health services, local government, accommodation and food services, and retail trade) indicating that this is not a tremendously diverse economy. But, the economic structure of Chelan County is “more the rule than the exception,” and is in fact indicative of the labor market structures of many agricultural-based economies (i.e., in Adams, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan, and Yakima counties) throughout Central Washington. 

A comparison of the top five sectors that provided the most jobs in Chelan County in 2016 with the sectors that produced the highest payrolls follows:

  • Agriculture provided 23.1 percent of all jobs countywide, but supplied only 15.5 percent of total wage income. Why? Many jobs in agriculture are seasonal.
  • Conversely, private health services tallied 13.8 percent of total covered employment, but accounted for 21.3 percent of total wage income – indicating it is a relatively “good paying” industry.
  • The local retail trade sector accounted for 10.4 percent of all jobs in the County, but only 7.8 percent of total wage income, since many retail jobs are part-time.
  • More than one in every ten jobs in Chelan County is in the accommodation and food services sector and many of these jobs are at hotels or restaurants. Accommodation and food services (primarily hotels and restaurants) accounted for 10.8 percent of all jobs in Chelan County, but only 5.5 percent of total wage income, a good indicator that many of these positions are part-time.
  • Wholesale trade is not shown on the above table because it ranked as the sixth-largest job provider and accounted for 6.0 percent of total covered jobs in Chelan County in 2016. However, in 2016 this sector was the fifth-largest wage provider, tallying 7.0 percent of all wage income countywide (see the “Wages and income” section, below). The lion’s share of jobs in Chelan County’s wholesale trade industry are at fresh-fruit packinghouses. In 2004 there were 1,304 wholesale trade jobs countywide but by 2016 there were 2,583 jobs in this sector. This equates to a 1,279 job and 98.1 percent jump in wholesale trade employment during this twelve-year period. The short story: between 2004 and 2016, employment in Chelan County’s wholesale trade industry has grown robustly.

The top five Douglas County sectors in 2016 in terms of employment were:

 Sector Number of jobs Share of employment
 1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing 3,100  25.9% 
 2. Local government 1,804  15.0% 
 3. Retail trade 1,520  12.7% 
 4. Accommodation and food services 941  7.8% 
 5. Health services 814  6.8% 
 All other industries 3,812  31.8% 
 Total covered employment 11,991  100% 

Douglas County’s covered employment of 11,991 in 2016 was slightly more than one-quarter the size of Chelan County’s covered employment of 43,270 jobs. More than two-thirds of all jobs in Douglas County were in five, two-digit NAICS industries or sectors (i.e., agriculture, local government, retail trade, accommodation and food services, and private health services) indicating that this is not a diverse economy. But, the economic structure of Douglas County is “more the rule than the exception,” and is in fact indicative of the labor market structures of many agricultural-based economies (i.e., in Adams, Chelan, Grant, Okanogan, and Yakima counties) throughout Central Washington. 

A comparison of the top five sectors that provided the most jobs in Douglas County in 2016 with the sectors that produced the highest payrolls follows:

  • Agriculture provided over a quarter of all jobs (25.9 percent) countywide, but supplied only 17.6 percent of total wage income (see the “Wages and income” section, below). Why? This industry still has a relatively high proportion of seasonal jobs.
  • Conversely, local government tallied 15.0 percent of total covered employment, but accounted for 21.4 percent of total wage income – indicating it is a relatively good paying sector.
  • The local retail trade sector accounted for 12.7 percent of all jobs, but 10.6 percent of total payroll, in the County. This industry has a relatively high percentage of jobs that are part-time.
  • Accommodation and food services (primarily hotels and restaurants) accounted for 7.8 percent of all jobs in Douglas County, but only 3.9 percent of total wage income, an indicator that many of these jobs are part-time. In fact, although this sector is Douglas County’s 4th largest in terms of covered employment, it is the 10th largest (of 22 industries/sectors) in terms of payroll.

For historical industry employment data, contact an economist.


Industry employment by age and gender

(Source: The Local Employment Dynamics)

The Local Employment Dynamics (LED) database, a joint project of state employment departments and the U.S. Census Bureau, matches state employment data with federal administrative data. Among the products is industry employment by age and gender. All workers covered by state unemployment insurance data are included; federal workers and non-covered workers, such as the self-employed, are not. Data are presented by place of work, not place of residence. Some highlights:

Chelan County – 2016

  • The county’s largest jobholder age group was the 55+ year-olds, accounting for 26.1 percent of the workforce. This group was closely followed by the 35-44 year olds and the 45-54 year-olds, in which each group accounted for 20.3 percent of the workforce.
  • Men held 50.0 percent and women held 50.0 percent of all jobs in Chelan County.
    • Male-dominatedindustries included construction (84.1 percent), transportation and warehousing (75.4 percent), and utilities (73.8 percent).
    • Female-dominated industries included healthcare and social assistance (76.7 percent), finance and insurance (75.2 percent) and educational services (67.6 percent).

Douglas County – 2016

  • The county’s largest jobholder age group was the 55+ year-olds with 24.5 percent of the workforce. This category was followed by the 45 to 54 year-olds with 20.4 percent of the workforce.
  • Men held 52.8 percent and women held 47.2 of all jobs in Douglas County.
    • Male-dominated industries included construction (81.4 percent of the workers in that industry), utilities (73.9 percent) and manufacturing (70.5 percent).
    • Female-dominated included health care and social assistance (81.1 percent), finance and insurance (76.6 percent) and management of companies and enterprises (71.5 percent).

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Wages and income

(Source: Employment Security Department; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Bureau of Economic Analysis; U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey)

The total covered payroll in 2016 in Chelan County was approximately $1.62 billion. The average annual wage was $37,480 or 63.4 percent of the state average of $59,090.

The top five Chelan County industries in 2016 in terms of payrolls were:

Sector Payroll Share of payrolls
 1. Health services $345,259,913  21.3% 
 2. Local government $260,119,114  16.0% 
 3. Agriculture, forestry and fishing $251,263,738  15.5% 
 4. Retail trade $126,613,227  7.8% 
 5. Wholesale trade $113,885,335  7.0% 
 All other industries $524,627,655  32.3% 
 Total covered payrolls $1,621,768,982  100% 

In 2016, QCEW data showed that Chelan County’s workers received $1.62 billion in wages. Slightly more than two-thirds of all wage income occurred in five, two-digit NAICS industries or sectors (i.e., health services, local government, agriculture, retail trade and wholesale trade).

Although agriculture was clearly the top job provider in Chelan County in 2016, with 23.1 percent of total covered employment; private health services was clearly the top industry in terms of payroll. Health services tallied a $345.3 million payroll in 2016, ranking this industry first out of 22 industries/categories in wage income. This sector (which includes jobs at doctors’/dentists’ offices, in a private hospital or nursing home, at a vocational rehab facility, etc.) provided more than one in every five dollars of earned wage income (21.3 percent) countywide in 2016.

The total covered payroll in 2016 in Douglas County was approximately $421.9 million. The average annual wage was $35,188 or 59.5 percent of the state average of $59,090.

The top five Douglas County industries in 2016 in terms of payrolls were:

Sector Payroll Share of payrolls
 1. Local government $90,187,346  21.4% 
 2. Agriculture, forestry and fishing $74,139,966  17.6% 
 3. Retail trade $44,926,144  10.6% 
 4. Professional and business services $33,667,330  8.0% 
 5. Construction $23,422,173  5.6% 
 All other industries $154,797,795   36.7% 
 Total covered payrolls $421,935,392  100% 

In 2016, QCEW data showed that Douglas County’s labor market provided $421.9 million in wages. Although agriculture was clearly the top job provider in Douglas County in 2016, with 25.9 percent of total covered employment it provided only 17.6 percent of wage income. Conversely; local government tallied only 15.0 of total covered employment countywide in 2016, but provided $90.2 million in payroll, ranking this industry first out of 22 industries/categories in wages and accounting for 21.4 percent of all earned wage income countywide. More than one in every five dollars earned in Douglas County, is earned in a local government organization (i.e., local public schools, public utility districts, police and fire departments, etc.).

Personal income

Personal income includes earned income, investment income, and government payments such as Social Security and Veterans Benefits. Investment income includes income imputed from pension funds and from owning a home. Per capita personal income equals total personal income divided by the resident population.

In 2015 Chelan County’s per capita income was $44,797, ranking the County 11th out of 39 Washington counties. Douglas County’s per capita income was $36,310, ranking the County 32nd out of 39 Washington counties. Washington’s per capita income was $51,898 and the nation was $48,112.

QuickFacts reported that median household income for the period 2012 to 2016 (in 2016 dollars) was $51,845 for Chelan County and at $53,758 for Douglas County compared to the state at $62,848 and the nation at $55,322.

Chelan County’s poverty rate was 11.5 percent and Douglas County’s was 12.8 percent over the period 2012 to 2016. In comparison, Washington state’s rate was 11.3 percent and the nation’s rate was 12.7 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts.

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Population

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Chelan County’s population in 2016 was 76,338, growing 5.3 percent from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016. The pace of growth in the county’s population was less robust than the state’s 8.4 percent growth rate from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016. The largest city in Chelan County is Wenatchee. Other notable cities are Cashmere and Chelan.

Douglas County’s population in 2016 was 41,327, growing 7.5 percent from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016. The county’s growth rate was a bit slower than the state’s 8.4-percent growth rate during this timeframe, but it was still more rapid than neighboring Chelan County’s 5.3-percent pace. The largest city in Douglas County is East Wenatchee. Other noteworthy cities in Douglas County are Bridgeport and Waterville.


Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Chelan County Douglas County Washington state
 Population 2016 76,338  41,327  7,288,000 
 Population 2010 72,464  38,431  6,724,545 
 Percent change, 2010 to 2016 5.3%  7.5%  8.4% 

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

The percent of the population age 65 and older in Chelan County as of July 1, 2016 was 18.4 percent and in Douglas County it was 16.8 percent. Both counties tallied a greater proportion of residents aged 65 and up versus Washington state (14.8 percent) and the nation (15.2 percent).

As of July 1, 2016, Chelan County’s (23.9 percent) and Douglas County’s (26.1 percent) shares of the population under 18 years of age were also larger than that of the state at 22.4 percent and the U.S. at 22.8 percent, respectively.

The population under the age of 5 years was slightly higher in Chelan County at 6.5 percent and in Douglas County at 6.8 percent than the state and the nation which were both at 6.2 percent (as of July 1, 2016).

Chelan County was 50.1 percent female and Douglas County was 49.5 percent female in 2016. The state’s ratio was 50.0 percent while the U.S. share was 50.8 percent.

Chelan and Douglas counties each recorded between one-quarter and one-third of their total populations in 2016 as Hispanic or Latino. Specifically, in 2016 the share of Hispanics in Chelan County was 27.7 percent in Chelan County and 31.5 percent in neighboring Douglas County, much higher than the 12.4 percent statewide ratio.


Demographics

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Chelan County Douglas County Washington state
 Population by age, 2016
Under 5 years old 6.5%  6.8%  6.2% 
Under 18 years old 23.9%  26.1%  22.4% 
65 years and older 18.4%  16.8%  14.8% 
 Females, 2016 50.1%  49.5%  50.0% 
 Race/ethnicity, 2016
White 93.4%  93.1%  80.0% 
Black 0.9%  0.9%  4.1% 
American Indian, Alaskan Native 2.0%  2.2%  1.9% 
Asian, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander 1.5%  1.5%  9.4% 
Hispanic or Latino, any race 27.7%  31.5%  12.4% 

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

According to the 2012-16 American Community Survey (ACS) a lower percentage of adults age 25 years and older in Chelan County (82.6 percent) and in Douglas County (81.1 percent) were high school graduates or higher than in the state (90.6 percent) or across the nation (87.0 percent). Correspondingly, there were fewer college graduates in these counties compared to the state and nation. In Chelan County, 25.3 percent of residents age 25 and older held a bachelor’s degree or higher while in Douglas County the share was only 17.7 percent. Conversely, in Washington state the percent of the adult population earning a bachelor’s degree or higher was 33.6 percent and across the U.S.A. the figure was 30.3 percent.

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Useful links

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