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Clallam County Profile

Overview | Geographic facts | Outlook | Labor force and unemployment |
Industry employment | Wages and Income | Population


Regional context

Clallam County occupies a long and narrow area in the most northwestern corner of Washington state. Encompassing part of the Olympic Peninsula, the county includes 1,738 square miles of mostly forested and mountainous land. Clallam County is full of natural wonders and many tourists and locals visit the Olympic National Park which attracted over 3 million visitors in 2013.

The region’s 200 miles of coastline have fostered the maritime and fishing industries. Traditionally, much of the economy of county has reflected this natural abundance with jobs in forestry, wood products and fisheries. As demand has declined for some of the goods-producing and agricultural products in the county, positions in leisure and tourism have grown in their place. The labor market continues to develop, benefiting from the region’s natural resources.

Local economy

Around 1851, the first white settlers staked their claims in the area. Clallam County was created in 1854 from bordering Jefferson County. The county’s name is derived from the Klallam or S’Klallam people who continue to play a significant role in the county. In 1890, Port Angeles was named the county seat. Sequim and Forks are the other two incorporated cities in the county.

Logging was the primary industry, and benefitted greatly when railroads made it possible to reach further and further into the great conifer stands. Hydroelectric power from the Elwha River dam spurred the first large sawmill in the area. The “Big Mill” was the largest employer in the county for the next 25 years. World War I fueled the need for spruce, which was vital to building the first airplanes. In the 1920s, pulp production took off in Port Angeles, providing the growing need for newsprint and cellulose.

After World War II, growth continued in timber and agriculture. Commercial and sport fishing activities became increasingly important. In the 1960s, Clallam County tribes reclaimed traditions and reasserted tribal rights to shares of the fish harvests. The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe won federal recognition in 1981, and received trust land at Blyn on Sequim Bay, which now houses a tribal center and casino.

The service sector has been experiencing growth over the past decades. The county houses two prisons, a hospital and school district, which are top employers. Forks became a tourism craze when the Twilight movies put it on the map.

Other new industries have moved into the county in the past decade. Advanced composites manufacturing has been established in and around the Port Angeles area, providing manufactured parts to the aerospace and marine industries.

Over the past 20 years, the economy in Clallam County has experienced slow but steady growth. This economic growth has been shaped by a vibrant port district in the county’s major coastal city of Port Angeles. New migration is also on the rise as many retirees are attracted to Sequim’s “sunbelt” climate.


Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Clallam County Rank in State
Land area, 2010 (square miles) 1,738.33 20
Persons per square mile, 2010 41.1 18



The year 2014 holds economic promise for the county with a number of projects under way that will support growth. Infrastructure improvement projects are employing residents and injecting important funds into the local economy. The Elwha River dam removal project began in 2011 with the goal of removing the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams. Now completed, the river, which supports major salmon runs, flows unimpeded for the first time in a century.

The Port of Port Angeles, the peninsula’s only deepwater port, supports local industry, employs office and trades staff and brings valued revenue into the community. Current projects at the port include a composites training institute. Also on the upswing are log exports to China, with revenue exceeding expectations through 2014.

Science and academic institutions in the county continue to research important topics and educate the next generation of the labor force. The Department of Energy’s Marine Sciences Laboratory is based at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim. Current projects at the lab include ocean energy development, impact of populations on marine environments and improved coastline security. The hope is to find a vibrant opportunity for growth in the areas of marine conservation and aquaculture.

Peninsula College continues to be a vibrant part of the community by offering programs in fields of business, healthcare and the trades. Current enrollment is approximately 5,169 full-time and part-time students.


Labor force and unemployment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

As of the preliminary June 2014 figures, the civilian labor force (26,470) was below the June 2013 levels (27,300). The number of employed residents was down 80 over the period. The number of unemployed residents decreased by 750 year over year. The non-seasonal adjusted unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent, down from 9.3 percent in June 2013.

If history is any indication the unemployment rate in the county should remain below 9 percent as 2014 comes to a close, with double digit unemployment behind us for the foreseeable future.

The declining labor force has been a battle that has been occurring throughout the state and nation and is tied to the residual effects of the recession. Look for this issue to linger in the coming months.


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Clallam County pegged 22,500 total nonfarm jobs positions in June 2014, up 20 jobs since June 2013. The jobs picture has remained similar in 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.

  • The goods-producing sector dropped 190 positions over the past 12 months ending in June 2014. Manufacturing shed 300 jobs while natural resources and mining was up by 110 jobs.
  • While the service-providing sector was up overall by 210 jobs, gains were modest in wholesale trade (+10) and information and financial activities lost 60 jobs.
  • Government jobs increased 0.3 percent, a total of 20 jobs at the federal, state and local levels.

Nonfarm job growth in the county has been sluggish at best with over the year growth rates well below the statewide average. In August for example the county saw nonfarm employment decline by just under 1 percent (-0.9%) while the state average over the same time period was +2.8%. Clallam County isn’t alone in its struggles as many of the states’ rural counties have found job creation elusive. This issue won’t be resolved any time soon.

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:

In 2012, the largest jobholder age group in Clallam County was the 55 and older age category, making up 27.6 percent of employment across all industries. The next largest share was among persons aged 45 to 54 with 22.4 percent of employment. 

  • In 2012, the county’s workers mirrored state patterns with workers ages 14 to 24 dominating the accommodation and food services jobs in the county with over 33 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 utilities (42.9 percent), educational services (40.4 percent), transportation and warehousing (42.4 percent), real estate and rental and leasing (39.6 percent) and healthcare and social assistance (32.5 percent).

Females made up 53.0 percent of the labor force in Clallam County with males making up the difference at 47.0 percent in 2012. Men were more often represented in higher paying industries.

  • Male-dominated industries included construction (83.8 percent), manufacturing (82.8 percent) and transportation and warehousing (81.2 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included finance and insurance (81.3 percent), healthcare and social assistance (79.8 percent) and educational services (68.1 percent).

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 2013, there were 21,973 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of over $776.5 million.
  • The average annual wage was $35,340, below the state’s average annual wage of $53,029.
  • The median hourly wage in 2012 was $17.63, below the state’s median hourly wage of $21.64 and the state less King’s median hourly wage of $19.24. Clallam County ranked 11th in the state in its median hourly wage in 2012, the best rank it has held.

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 2012, the per capita personal income was $38,545, less than the state’s ($46,045) and the nation’s ($43,735). Clallam County ranked 16th in the state in its per capita personal income in 2012.

The median household income was $42,485 in 2012 according to U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts. The county’s median was less than the state’s ($57,573) and the nation’s ($51,371).

In 2008-2012, 13.5 percent of the population was living below the poverty level, higher than the state at 12.9 percent but lower than the nation (14.9 percent).



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Clallam County’s population estimate in 2013 was 72,312. The population grew 1.3 percent from 2010, more slowly than that of the state at 3.7 percent.

Port Angeles is the largest city in the county with 19,190 residents. Its growth rate was 0.8 percent since April 2010.

Sequim is the next largest city with 6,669 residents in 2013, up from 6,606 in 2010. It experienced phenomenal growth from 2000 due in large part to the influx of retirees drawn to its dry, moderate climate.

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Clallam County Washington State
Population 2013 72,312 6,971,406
Population 2010 71,404 6,724,540
Percent Change, 2010 to 2013 1.3% 3.7%

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Clallam County had almost double the population in the 65 and older age category compared to the state in 2013.

  • Clallam County’s population of those aged 65 and older was 26.0 percent compared to the state’s 13.6 percent.
  • The next largest group, those under 18 years old, was 17.9 percent in the county, less than that of the state’s 22.9 percent.
  • The youngest group, those under five years old, was 4.6 percent in Clallam County compared to the state’s 6.4 percent.

Females in 2013 made up 50.3 percent of the county’s population compared to 50.0 percent of the state.

Clallam County showed much less diversity in 2013 than the state in all racial/ethnic categories except American Indians and Alaskan Natives. In Clallam County, American Indians and Alaskan Natives made up 5.5 percent of its population compared to 1.9 percent of the state’s population.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Clallam County Washington State
Population by age, 2013
Under 5 years old 4.6% 6.4%
Under 18 years old 17.9% 22.9%
65 years and older 26.0% 13.6%
Females, 2013 50.3% 50.0%
Race/ethnicity, 2013
White 88.0% 81.2%
Black 1.0% 4.0%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 5.5% 1.9%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 1.8% 8.6%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 5.7% 11.9%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Most Clallam County residents age 25 and older (91.5 percent) were high school graduates, which compares with 90.0 percent of Washington state’s residents and 85.7 percent of U.S. residents.

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher made up 24.6 percent of Clallam County residents age 25 and older compared to 31.6 percent of state residents and 28.5 percent of U.S. residents.