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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 3.2 million visitors in 2014.

The region’s 200 miles of coastline have fostered the maritime and fishing industries. Traditionally, much of the economy of the 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, the service sector, including leisure and tourism has 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. In 2014 it accounted for 88.5 percent of all nonfarm employment. The county houses two prisons, a hospital and school district, which are top employers. The city of 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. Composites recycling is also on the horizon with the new Composites Recycling Tech­nology Center under development.

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 2015 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 restoration project began in 2011 with the goal of removing the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, the largest dam removal project in history. Now completed, the river, which supports major salmon runs, flows unimpeded to the Strait of Juan de Fuca 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. The port also handles an average of 60.5 million board-feet of logs per year.

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. It has three campus locations in Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Forks.


Labor force and unemployment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

The 2014 civilian labor force (26,954) was below the 2013 levels (27,290) on an annual average basis. The number of employed residents was down 21 over the period. The number of unemployed residents decreased by 315 over the year. The not-seasonally adjusted 2014 unemployment rate stood at 8.7 percent, down from 9.7 percent in 2013.

The 2015 data through November indicate the unemployment rate in the county will remain below 8.5 percent as 2015 draws to a close, with double digit unemployment behind us for the foreseeable future.

The slowly declining labor force has been occurring throughout the state and nation and is tied to the residual effects of the recession and an aging population. A direct beneficiary of this trend may be the retirement community destinations like Sequim and service industries focusing on elder care.


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Clallam County had an estimated 22,800 nonfarm jobs in November 2015, up 440 jobs from November 2014. The jobs picture has improved in 2015 compared to the same months in 2014.

  • The goods-producing sector added 10 positions over the past 12 months ending in November 2015. Manufacturing added 80 jobs while mining, logging and construction was down by 70 jobs.
  • While the service-providing sector was up overall by 430 jobs, gains were modest in wholesale trade (+20) and professional and business services lost 140 jobs.
  • Government employment increased 3.8 percent, a total of 280 jobs at the federal, state and local levels.

Nonfarm job growth in the county has been steady over the year, averaging 1.7 percent through November 2015. This compares with 2.7 percent for the state over the same time period. Job creation in rural counties typically lags statewide growth rates.

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 2014, the largest jobholder age group in Clallam County was the 55 and older age category, making up 28.6 percent of employment across all industries. The next largest share was among persons aged 45 to 54 with 21.3 percent of employment. 

  • In 2014, 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 30.7 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 (44.2 percent), educational services (39.8 percent), transportation and warehousing (40.1 percent), real estate and rental and leasing (38.8 percent) and healthcare and social assistance (34.5 percent).

Females made up 53.2 percent of the labor force in Clallam County with males making up the difference at 46.8 percent in 2014. Men were more often represented in higher paying industries.

  • Male-dominated industries included construction (83.0 percent), manufacturing (83.1 percent) and transportation and warehousing (81.9 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included finance and insurance (81.3 percent), healthcare and social assistance (78.7 percent) and educational services (68.5 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 2014, there were 22,036 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of over $789.6 million.
  • The average annual wage was $35,833, below the state’s average annual wage of $55,003.
  • The median hourly wage in 2014 was $18.16, below the state’s median hourly wage of $22.61 and the state excluding King County median hourly wage of $19.85. Clallam County ranked 28th in the state in its median hourly wage in 2014.

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 2013, the per capita personal income was $40,586, less than the state’s ($47,717) and the nation’s ($44,765). Clallam County ranked 17th in the state in its per capita personal income in 2013.

The median household income was $47,008 in 2010-2014 according to U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts. The county’s median was less than the state’s ($60,294) and the nation’s ($53,482).

In 2014, 16.2 percent of the population was living below the poverty level, higher than the state at 13.2 percent but lower than the nation (14.8 percent). The state and national rates are not directly comparable to the county rate because they each use different data sources.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Clallam County’s population estimate in 2014 was 72,715. The population grew 1.8 percent from 2010, more slowly than that of the state at 5.0 percent.

Port Angeles is the largest city in the county with 19,256 residents. Its growth rate was 1.1 percent since April 2010.

Sequim is the next largest city with 6,737 residents in 2014, up from 6,606 in 2010, a 2.0 percent increase. It experienced steady 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 2014 72,715 7,061,530
Population 2010 71,404 6,724,543
Percent Change, 2010 to 2014 1.8% 5.0%

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 2014.

  • Clallam County’s population of those aged 65 and older was 26.9 percent compared to the state’s 14.1 percent.
  • The next largest group, those under 18 years old, was 17.7 percent in the county, less than that of the state’s 22.7 percent.
  • The youngest group, those under five years old, was 4.7 percent in Clallam County compared to the state’s 6.3 percent.

Females in 2014 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 2014 than the state in all racial/ethnic categories except American Indians and Alaskan Natives. In Clallam County, American Indians and Alaskan Natives made up 5.6 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, 2014
Under 5 years old 4.7% 6.3%
Under 18 years old 17.7% 22.7%
65 years and older 26.9% 14.1%
Females, 2014 50.3% 50.0%
Race/ethnicity, 2014
White 87.8% 80.7%
Black 1.0% 4.1%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 5.6% 1.9%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 1.9% 8.9%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 5.8% 12.2%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Most of Clallam County residents age 25 and older (91.6 percent) were high school graduates, which compares with 90.2 percent of Washington state’s residents and 86.3 percent of U.S. residents during the period 2010-2014.

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher made up 24.5 percent of Clallam County residents age 25 and older compared to 32.3 percent of state residents and 29.3 percent of U.S. residents during the same period.