Lincoln County profile

Washington state map with Lincoln county highlightedby Doug Tweedy, regional labor economist - updated October 2018

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


Regional context

Lincoln County is a rural county at the northern edge of the Palouse wheat-growing region. The economy is dominated by wheat production. The entire northern boundary of the county is a federal Indian reservation and the county seat is in Davenport. The County is the seventh largest in the state, comprising 2,310 square miles.

Next to Whitman County, Lincoln County grows the most wheat in Washington State. Annual wheat production can be over 25 million bushels. One point two million acres of the county’s 1.5 million-acre area is in farmland and one in every three of those acres is planted in wheat. Lincoln county farmers are very efficient and 2018 production was good. However, wheat prices did drop and have farmers worried about the future. With the drop in wheat prices, the regional economy and local retail sales have been impacted. Livestock production is also an important component of Lincoln county agriculture. A new meat packing plant in Odessa has added diversity to agriculture income.

Tourism activities have increased over the last decade as Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Roosevelt have become more developed.

Local economy

Original settlers came to the area seeking gold and those who settled in the area grew livestock. With the advent of the first railroad in 1881, overall agriculture production focused on wheat. Success in wheat farming eventually drove migration, settlement and development.

Growth in total nonfarm employment has been relatively slow over the last 12 years, but had managed to minimize losses during the last recession. Employment peaked in 2008, but has slightly declined since then.

Geographic facts

Lincoln County Rank in state
 Land area, 2010 (square miles) 2,310.49 
 People per square mile, 2010 4.6  37 

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

(back to top)


The Lincoln County goods-producing sector increased in 2018. Construction jobs increased, stimulated by construction of storage facilities and warehouses. The new Amazon development in Spokane County is close to the border with Lincoln County and may provide the county new jobs and revenue.

The service-providing industry also added new jobs in 2018. A majority of new jobs have been in schools.   Schools and government employment constitutes almost half of all jobs in the county. In the short term ongoing budgetary problems are expected to continue to limit overall expansion of government. Lincoln County retail sales improved in 2018. But, even with the increase in total retail sales, overall sales tend to be lower relative to the per capita state average. This reflects the large number of purchases occurring in neighboring Spokane County as county residents travel to shop.

Slow population growth over the last decade limits overall economic growth. This is especially true in many small communities where support for services and the replacement of existing public infrastructure are hampered by a declining population. Overall, the population for the county tends to grow much slower and is older than is typical for the state and nation.

Labor force and unemployment

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

Through the first nine months of 2018 the average civilian labor force was 5,021 which compares to 4,974 for the same period in 2017. Increases in the labor force reverse a trend from 2010, of workers migrating out of the county. Good news for county employers. The county unemployment rate in the first nine months of 2018 averaged 4.9 percent, which is a decrease from the first nine months of 2017 (5.0 percent).

The unemployment rate fluctuates throughout the year, reflecting seasonal employment, with lows in the summer and highs in the winter.

(Source: Employment Security Department)

(back to top)

Industry employment

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

Lincoln County nonfarm employment averaged 2,720 in the first nine months of 2018 compared to 2,587 for the same period in 2017.

  • Goods-producing employment averaged 320 in the first nine months of 2018. A significant increase (83) from 2017.

  • Service-providing employment averaged 2,400 in 2018 compared to the 2017 average of 2,350. A majority of the job increase came in schools.

  • Government employment averaged 1,330 in 2018, up slightly from the 2017 average employment of 1,268.

For historical industry employment data, contact an economist.

(Source: Employment Security Department)

Industry employment by age and gender

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.

Lincoln County highlights:

The largest jobholder group in Lincoln County in 2017 was the 55+ year-olds with 32.0 percent of the workforce. In 2017, 50.5 percent of all industry jobs were held by men and 49.5 percent were held by women. Industry differences are discussed below:

  • Male-dominated industries included agriculture (77.6 percent), construction (87.9 percent), transportation and warehousing (72.0 percent), administrative and waste management (68.6 percent) and wholesale trade (74.9 percent).

  • Female-dominated industries included accommodation and food service (82.3 percent), healthcare and social assistance (74.9 percent), professional, scientific and technical services (82.4 percent), finance and insurance (82.0 percent) and educational services (65.1 percent).

(Source: The Local Employment Dynamics)

Wages and income

In 2017, there were 2,781 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of $100.9 million.

The county annual average wage was $36,289 in 2017, which is well below the state’s average annual wage of $62,077. In 2017, Lincoln County ranked 34th of 39 counties in the state for average annual wages.

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 2016, the per capita income was $46,053, which was well below the state’s per capita income of $54,579 and the nation’s per capita income of $49,246.

Median household income over the period 2012 to 2016 was $47,676, well below the state’s $62,848.

Over the period 2012 to 2016, 12.5 percent of the population was living below the poverty level in Lincoln County. This compares to 11.0 percent of the state.

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

(back to top)


Lincoln County’s population was 10,570 in 2010. The estimated population in 2017 of 10,579 is a slight increase. However, we do expect population to increase as jobs are increasing.

The largest city in Lincoln County is Davenport with a population of 1,700 in 2017. Many small communities have experienced no growth or declines in the populations over the last decade.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Population facts

Lincoln County Washington state
 Population 2017 10,579  7,405,743 
 Population 2010 10,570  6,724,545 
 Percent change, 2010 to 2017 0.1%  10.1% 

Age, gender and ethnicity

Lincoln County, as a percent, had a much older age demographic than the state or nation in 2017.

  • Lincoln County’s population age 65 and older was 25.2 percent in 2017 compared to the state’s 15.1 percent.

  • The youngest age group, under 5 years, was 5.1 percent in 2017 compared to the state’s 6.2 percent.

Within Lincoln County, there is less diversity than the state. White persons who are not of Hispanic descent made up 94.2 percent of the county’s population compared to 79.5 percent of the state’s population.


Lincoln County Washington state
 Population by age, 2017
Under 5 years old 5.1%  6.2% 
Under 18 years old 21.7%  22.2% 
65 years and older 25.2%  15.1% 
 Females, 2017 49.2%  50.0% 
 Race/ethnicity, 2017
White 94.2%  79.5% 
Black 0.5%  4.2% 
American Indian, Alaskan Native 1.9%  1.9% 
Asian, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander 0.7%  9.7% 
Hispanic or Latino, any race 3.4%  12.7% 

Educational attainment

Over the period 2012 to 2016, 91.3 percent of individuals age 25 and older were high school graduates. This figure is higher than that of Washington state (90.6 percent).

Over the same period, fewer Lincoln County residents 25 and older have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher (22.0 percent), compared to the state (33.6 percent).

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)


Useful links

(back to top)