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Lincoln County Profile

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


Regional context

Lincoln County is a rural county at the northern edge of the Palouse wheat-growing region. The economy is dominated by wheat. The entire northern boundary of the county is a federal Indian reservation and the county seat is in Davenport. Lincoln County is the eighth largest in the state, comprising 2,317 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. Over the last three years, prices for wheat have been strong. This has positively impacted the regional economy and local retail sales. 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 has managed to minimize losses during the last recession. Employment peaked in 2008, but has slightly declined since then.


Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Lincoln County Rank in state
Land area, 2010 (square miles) 2,310.49 8
Persons per square mile, 2013 4.6 37



The Lincoln County goods-producing sector remained steady in 2013 and the first half of 2014. Increases in agricultural wealth have spurred construction of building in both the private and public sectors.

The service-providing industry has grown very little over the last decade. Government employment constitutes the largest component of this sector accounting for almost half of total employment. In the short term ongoing budgetary problems are expected to continue to limit overall expansion of government; however education which is part of government totals is expected to see some increase.

Lincoln County, retail sales improved in 2013. 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 counties 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 be older than is typical for the state and nation.


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 six months of 2014 the average civilian labor force was 4,426 which compares to 4,451for the same period in 2013. Since 2010, the county experienced an out migration of workers, with the labor force unchanged in the first half of 2014, that trend appears to be slowing down. The county unemployment rate for the first half of 2014 averaged 6.8 percent, a significant decrease from the first half of 2013 of 8.6 percent.

The unemployment rate fluctuates throughout the year, reflecting seasonal employment, with lows in September or October each year and peaks in January or February.


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Lincoln County nonfarm employment averaged 2,620 in the first half of 2014 compared to 2,650 for the same period in 2013.

  • Goods-producing employment averaged 150 in the first half of 2014. A slight decrease from 2013.
  • Service-providing employment averaged 2,530 in 2014 compared to the 2013 average of 2,475. A majority of the increase coming in education employment.
  • Government employment averaged 1,390 in 2014, up from the 2013 average employment of 1,355. All of the employment increase coming in schools.

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 group in Lincoln County in 2012 was the 55+ year-olds with 28.9 percent of the workforce. They were closely followed by 45-54 year-olds with 25.5 percent of the workforce.

In 2012, 48.8 percent of all industry jobs were held by men and 51.2 percent were held by women. Industry differences are discussed below:

  • Male-dominated industries included agriculture (88.9 percent), construction (86.3 percent), transportation and warehousing (85.1 percent), administrative and waste management (72.5 percent) and wholesale trade (74.7 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included accommodation and food service (83.8 percent), healthcare and social assistance (78.4 percent), professional, scientific and technical services (81.6 percent), finance and insurance (78.6 percent) and educational services (62.6 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 2,886 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of $95 million.

The County annual average wage was $32,933 in 2013, which is well below the state’s average annual wage of $53,029. In 2013, 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 2012 the per capita income was $38,064, which was well below the state’s per capita income of $46,045 and the nation’s per capita income of $43,735.

Median household income over the period 2008 to 2012 was $45,563, well below the state’s $59,374.

Over the period 2008 to 2012, 14.4 percent of the population was living below the poverty level in Lincoln County. This compares to 12.9 percent of the state and 14.9 percent of the nation. The poverty rate for children under the age of 18 was 22.2. This compares to 20.8 percent for the nation and 17.2 percent for the state.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Lincoln County’s population was 10,570 in 2010. From 2010 – 2013 the county estimated population declined by 269 people.

The largest city in Lincoln County is Davenport with a population of 1,700 in 2013. Many small communities have experienced no growth or declines in the populations over the last decade.

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Lincoln County Washington state
Population 2013 10,301 6,971,406
Population 2010 10,570 6,724,543
Percent change, 2010 to 2013 -2.5% 3.7%

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Lincoln County, as a percent, had a much older age demographic than the state or nation in 2013.

  • Lincoln County’s population age 60 and older was 31.4 percent in 2013 compared to the state’s 19.7 percent.
  • Almost 60 percent of the population in Lincoln County was over the age of 40 in 2013.
  • The youngest age group, those 4 years and younger, was 4.8 percent in 2013 compared to the state’s 6.4 percent.

Males and females were almost exactly split 50/50.

Within Lincoln County, there is less diversity than the state. White persons who are not of Hispanic descent made up 91.9 percent of the county’s population compared to 71.0 percent of the state’s population.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Lincoln County Washington state
Population by age, 2013
Under 5 years old 4.9% 6.4%
19 and under 23.9% 25.6%
60 years and older 31.4% 19.7%
Females, 2013 50.1% 50.0%
Race/ethnicity, 2013
White 94.4% 81.2%
Black 0.3% 4.0%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 2.0% 1.9%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 0.7% 8.6%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 2.9% 11.9%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Over the period 2008 to 2012, 93.0 percent of individuals age 25 and older were high school graduates. This figure is higher than that of Washington state (90.0 percent) and the nation (85.7 percent).

Over the same period, fewer of Lincoln County residents 25 and older have attained higher education as can be noted in the low levels of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher (19.2 percent). This is below the percents for the state (31.6 percent) or nation (28.5 percent).