Pacific County profile

Washington state map with Pacific county highlightedby Jim Vleming, regional labor economist - updated September 2017

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

Overview

Regional context

Pacific County is located in the southwestern part of the state with the Pacific Ocean on its western border. It was established as a county in 1851, and its boundaries were adjusted multiple times from 1860 to 1925. The Chinook and Chehalis tribes inhabited the area, and found their numbers greatly reduced by disease introduced by Europeans.


Local economy

Some of the early settlers arrived via shipwreck due to the difficulty in navigating the estuary at the mouth of the Columbia. The Hudson Bay Company attracted fur trappers who settled in the area. The 1845 California Gold Rush created a housing boom in San Francisco, which opened markets for timber and oysters, mainstays of Pacific County. Willapa Bay in the county is the nation’s largest farmed shellfish producer. Cranberry bogs, forest-products, manufacturing and dairy farms are also important to the counties industrial mix. Tourism is also a critical feature of Pacific County economy. In 2015, 24.2 percent of earned income came from residents working outside the county.

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Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Pacific County Rank in state
 Land area, 2010 (square miles) 932.66  30 
 Persons per square mile, 2010 22.4  24 

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Outlook

Nonfarm job growth has been stagnant in the county since the great recession. Particularly hard hit has been the goods producing sector, including manufacturing and construction. In fact most sectors of the economy continue to lag pre-recession totals. At the current rate of growth the economy will take several more years to exceed the losses posted during the recession. Currently in 2017 nonfarm jobs are off about 130 from their 2008 totals.

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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.

The unemployment rate in the county was 10.0 percent in December 2015. So far, since that point it has remained in the single digits, with an August 2017 preliminary rate of 6.2 percent. This compares to 7.3 in August 2016. There have been slight gains in labor force over this time frame as well.

The civilian labor force in the county expanded by 128 in the year ending August 2017, but still remains well below that of 2009. The number of unemployed residents fell by 90 in August 2017 compared to 2016.

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Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Nonfarm employment in the county is primarily in service-providing industries, with government being the largest employer. As of August 2017, service industries accounted for 4,980 of the 6,260 nonfarm jobs in the county. In the services sector, government held 1,900 jobs followed by leisure and hospitality (1,070) and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (780). In the goods-producing sector, manufacturing provides the bulk of employment (890) jobs.

While annual job growth turned positive starting in 2012 (+2.1 percent), this increase in nonfarm employment continues to lag pre-recession totals. Through August of 2017 nonfarm jobs averaged 6,020 jobs compared to 2006 with an average of 6,330 jobs.

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 is presented by place of work, not place of residence. Some highlights:

In 2016, the largest jobholder age group in Pacific County was the 55 and older age category, making up 28.9 percent of employment across all industries. The next largest share was among persons aged 45 to 54 with 21.5 percent of employment. 

In 2016, the county’s workers mirrored state patterns with workers ages 14 to 24 dominating the accommodation and food services jobs in the county with 25.0 percent of the positions. This age group was also well represented in arts, entertainment and recreation and retail trade.

Workers in the 55 year and older age category were prevalent in transportation and warehousing (54.0 percent), other services (46.8 percent) and mining at 42.5 percent.

Females made up 50.2 percent of the labor force in Pacific County with males making up the difference at 49.8 percent in 2016. Men were more often represented in higher paying industries

2016, the largest jobholder age group in Pacific County was the 55 and older age category, making up 28.9 percent of employment across all industries. The next largest share was among persons aged 45 to 54 with 21.5 percent of employment. 

In 2016, the county’s workers mirrored state patterns with workers ages 14 to 24 dominating the accommodation and food services jobs in the county with 25.0 percent of the positions. This age group was also well represented in arts, entertainment and recreation and retail trade.

Workers in the 55 year and older age category were prevalent in transportation and warehousing (54.0 percent), other services (46.8 percent) and mining at 42.5 percent.

Females made up 50.2 percent of the labor force in Pacific County with males making up the difference at 49.8 percent in 2016. Men were more often represented in higher paying industries.

  • Male-dominated industries included mining (84.3 percent), construction (83.6 percent), manufacturing (73.2 percent) and transportation and warehousing (68.3 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included finance and insurance (81.4 percent), healthcare and social assistance (75.8 percent) and professional, scientific, and technical services (68.6 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)

In 2016, there were 6,417 jobs covered by unemployment insurance in Pacific County, with a total payroll of over $217.6 million.

The county’s average annual wage in 2016 was $33,906. That total lags both the state ($59,073) and the state minus king county ($46,771).

The median hourly wage in 2016 was $18.06, below the state’s median hourly wage of $23.91 and the state excluding King County median hourly wage of $20.68.

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.

Personal income in 2015 lagged both the state and nation as Pacific County’s per capita personal income was $41,560. The U.S. average was $48,112 and the state rate was $51,898. Pacific County ranked 20th in the state in its per capita personal income in 2015.

The median household income in Pacific County was $37,684 in 2011-2015 according to U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts. The county’s median was less than the state’s ($61,062) and the nation’s ($53,889).

Over the period 2011-2015, 18.8 percent of the Pacific County’s population was living below the poverty level, compared with 11.3 percent for the state and the nation at 12.7 percent. The state and national rates are not directly comparable to the county rate because they each use different data sources.

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Population

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis; Washington of Financial Management)

The population of Pacific County has grown over the years, adding 329 individuals to the total since 2010. The largest city is Raymond, with a population of 2,885, followed by South Bend (1,620) and Long Beach (1,440).


Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Pacific County Washington state
 Population 2016 21,249  7,288,000 
 Population 2010 20,920  6,724,540 
 Percent change, 2010 to 2016 1.6%  8.4% 

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

The population of Pacific County is considerably older than that of the state, as evidenced by the percentage in the 65 and older group.

The county is much less diverse than the state in terms of race and ethnicity, with over 89.7 percent white and just 1.1 percent black. The American Indians and Alaskan Natives make up 3.0 percent of the county population.


Demographics

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Pacific County Washington state
 Population by age, 2016
Under 5 years old 4.3%  6.2% 
Under 18 years old 16.6%  22.4% 
65 years and older 28.9%  14.8% 
 Females, 2016 50.0%  50.0% 
 Race/ethnicity, 2016
White 89.8%  80.0% 
Black 1.0%  4.1% 
American Indian, Alaskan Native 3.0%  1.9% 
Asian, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander 2.3%  9.4% 
Hispanic or Latino, any race 9.4%  12.4% 

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Most Pccific County residents age 25 and older (87.4 percent) were high school graduates, which compares with 90.4 percent of Washington state’s residents and 86.7 percent of U.S. residents in the period 2011-2015.

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher made up 16.8 percent of Pacific County residents age 25 and older compared to 32.9 percent of state residents and 29.8 percent of U.S. residents during the same period.

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Useful links

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