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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 slight saw job losses in manufacturing. However, increases in agricultural wealth have spurred construction of storage facilities and warehouses.

The service-providing industry has also seen decreases. Losses have come from transportation and government employment. Government constitutes almost half of all jobs in the county. In the short term ongoing budgetary problems are expected to continue to limit overall expansion of government. Lincoln County, retail sales improved in 2014. 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 is 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 seven months of 2015 the average civilian labor force was 4,924 which compares to 5,068 for the same period in 2014. Since 2010, the county has experienced an out migration of workers. The labor force decrease in the first half of 2015 continues this trend. The county unemployment rate in the first half of 2015 averaged 6.4 percent, an increase from the first half of 2014 of 6.1 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 2,650 in the first half of 2015 compared to 2,757 for the same period in 2014.

  • Goods-producing employment averaged 220 in the first half of 2015. A slight decrease from 2014.
  • Service-providing employment averaged 2,430 in 2015 compared to the 2014 average of 2,530. A majority of the decrease coming in government and transportation.
  • Government employment averaged 1,330 in 2015, down from the 2014 average employment of 1,366.

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 2014 was the 55+ year-olds with 32.3 percent of the workforce. They were closely followed by 45-54 year-olds with 22.4 percent of the workforce.

In 2014, 48.9 percent of all industry jobs were held by men and 51.1 percent were held by women. Industry differences are discussed below:

  • Male-dominated industries included agriculture (84.1 percent), construction (86.5 percent), transportation and warehousing (87.0 percent), administrative and waste management (85.5 percent) and wholesale trade (74.3 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included accommodation and food service (82.5 percent), healthcare and social assistance (79.3 percent), professional, scientific and technical services (80.5 percent), finance and insurance (78.1 percent) and educational services (63.4 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 2,923 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of $98 million.

The county annual average wage was $33,545 in 2014, which is well below the state’s average annual wage of $55,003. In 2014, 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 2013 the per capita income was $42,746, which was well below the state’s per capita income of $47,717 and the nation’s per capita income of $44,765.

Median household income over the period 2009 to 2013 was $47,195, well below the state’s $59,478.

Over the period 2009 to 2013, 14.2 percent of the population was living below the poverty level in Lincoln County. This compares to 13.4 percent of the state.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau; Washington State Office of Financial Management)

Lincoln County’s population was 10,570 in 2010. The estimated population in 2014 of 10,250 was a drop of 270, which closely mirrors the decrease in jobs.

The largest city in Lincoln County is Davenport with a population of 1,685 in 2014. Many small communities have experienced no growth or declines in the populations over the last decade.

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts; Washington State Office of Financial Management)

Lincoln County Washington state
Population 2014 10,250 7,061,530
Population 2010 10,570 6,724,543
Percent change, 2010 to 2014 -3.0% 5.0%

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 2014.

  • Lincoln County’s population age 65 and older was 23.9 percent in 2014 compared to the state’s 14.1 percent.
  • The youngest age group, under 5 years, was 4.7 percent in 2014 compared to the state’s 6.3 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 94.3 percent of the county’s population compared to 80.7 percent of the state’s population.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Lincoln County Washington state
Population by age, 2014
Under 5 years old 4.7% 6.3%
18 and under 21.7% 22.7%
65 years and older 23.9% 14.1%
Females, 2014 49.7% 50.0%
Race/ethnicity, 2014
White 94.3% 80.7%
Black 0.4% 4.1%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 1.9% 1.9%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 0.8% 8.9%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 3.1% 12.2%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Over the period 2009 to 2013, 93.5 percent of individuals age 25 and older were high school graduates. This figure is higher than that of Washington State (90.0 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 (20.3 percent). This is below the percent's for the state (31.9 percent).