Stevens County Profile

Washington state map with Stevens 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

Stevens County is located in the northeast corner of Washington, bordering both Canada and Spokane County. The County is rural and ranks fifth in the state in terms of land area and 28th in the state for population density. Most of the Spokane Indian Reservation is located in Stevens County on 237.5 square miles. Colville is the largest town in the county.

Local economy

From the 1850s through 1910, Stevens County was one of the state’s top silver and copper producers. Forest products have also dominated the economy. Over the past 20 years, the economy has diversified from its dependence on resource extraction. This diversification has been the result of increasing service-providing jobs and increases in manufacturing.

Stevens County tends to have one of the highest unemployment rates as well as a lower labor force participation rate in the state. Over the last three years total employment in the county has increased modestly.

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Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Stevens County Rank in state
 Land area, 2010 (square miles) 2,477.76 
 Persons per square mile, 2010 17.96  28 

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For Stevens County, recovery from the recession has been long and slow. Recently, jobs have increased but job growth still hasn’t reached pre-recession levels. Recent demand in the housing and recreational markets along with machinery manufacturing have helped the county recover foundation-type jobs.

With an increase in retirees within the region and changing demographics, total health care employment has grown, especially in assisted care centers. However, consolidation of hospitals, clinics and labs will keep increases modest.

Government is the largest employment sector in the county, accounting for more than 30 percent of total jobs. Federal budget increases are expected in Border Protection and Forest Service (Fire Fighting) and are likely to increase government employment in 2018 and 2019. Also, education, a sub sector of government did post-employment increases in the first half of 2018.

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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.

Through the first 9 months of 2018, the Stevens County civilian labor force averaged 18,027. This was down from the same period in 2017 (18,238). The county unemployment rate has decreased in 2018, but is still averaging 7.5 percent for the year.

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Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Stevens County averaged 10,640 jobs in 2017 which was an increase from 2016 (10,348).

  • Goods-producing employment decreased slightly by 18 in 2017. Most of the decrease was posted in the construction and agriculture sectors.
  • Service-providing employment in 2017 increased from 2016 levels. Almost all of the increase was in education, leisure/hospitality and retail trade.

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:

The largest jobholder age group in Stevens County in 2017 was the 55+ age cohort with 28.5 percent of the workforce. This percentage was followed by jobholders age 45 to 54 at 21.2 percent of the workforce.

In 2017, men held 50.4 percent and women held 49.6 percent of the jobs in Stevens County. There were substantial differences in gender dominance by industry.

  • Male-dominated industries included mining (92.7 percent), agriculture (81.0 percent), construction (85.2 percent), manufacturing (81.3 percent) and utilities (79.7 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included healthcare and social assistance (80.9 percent), educational services (69.4 percent) and finance and insurance (80.5 percent).

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Wages and income

In 2017, there were approximately 10,640 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of over $399.6 million.

The 2017 average annual wage was $37,562, well below the state’s average annual wage of approximately $62,077.

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 personal income in Stevens County was $35,855 and ranked 37th among Washington counties.

According to the U.S. Census QuickFacts, the county’s median household income was $44,115 in the period 2012 through 2016. The county’s median was less than the state’s ($62,848).

Over the period 2012-2016, 14.3 percent of the population was living below the poverty level, higher than the state at 11.0 percent.

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(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Stevens County’s population was 44,730 in 2017, with 78 percent of the residents living in unincorporated areas. The population was flat from 2010 to 2017, compared to the state’s growth rate of 10.1 percent. The largest city in Stevens County is Colville (4,730 in 2017).

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Stevens County Washington state
 Population 2017 44,730  7,405,743 
 Population 2010 43,537  6,724,545 
 Percent change, 2010 to 2017 2.8%  10.1% 

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Proportionately, more of Stevens County’s population was 65 years and older compared with the state.

Stevens County showed much less diversity in 2017 than the state in all racial/ethnic categories except American Indians and Alaska Natives.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Stevens County Washington state
 Population by age, 2017
Under 5 years old 5.5%  6.2% 
Under 18 years old 21.7%  22.2% 
65 years and older 22.6%  15.1% 
 Females, 2017 50.1%  50.0% 
 Race/ethnicity, 2017
White 89.2%  79.5% 
Black 0.5%  4.2% 
American Indian, Alaskan Native 6.0%  1.9% 
Asian, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander 1.0%  9.7% 
Hispanic or Latino, any race 3.8%  12.7% 

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Most of Stevens County residents age 25 and older (89.9 percent) were high school graduates, which compares favorably with that of the state (90.6 percent) over the period 2012 through 2016.

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher made up 18.0 percent of Stevens County residents age 25 and older compared to 33.6 percent of state residents.

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Useful links

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