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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, wheat farming has noticeably turned positive and this has positively impacted the regional economy and local retail sales. Livestock production is also important but a much smaller component of 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 marginally 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 increased in 2012 by 30 jobs mainly in construction. 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 over fifty percent 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 2012. But, even with the increase in total retail sales, overall sales tend to 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 seven months of 2013 the average civilian labor force was 4,560 which is down (160) from the same period in 2012. Indicating an out migration of workers, this has been a trend since 2010. The unemployment rate for the first half of 2013 averaged 8.3 a slight increase from the 2012 average of 8.2 percent. The unemployment rate rose sharply beginning in 2009 and remains at elevated levels.

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 2,630 in the first half of 2013 compared to 2,700 for the same period in 2012. In 2013 nonfarm employment realized some gains in construction and manufacturing but most of the increase was offset by decreases in Government.

  • Goods-producing employment averaged 190 in the first half of 2013. The average for 2012 was 213.
  • Service-providing employment averaged 2,440 in 2013 compared to the 2012 average of 2,490. A majority of the decrease coming in government employment.
  • Government employment averaged 1,350 in 2013, down from the 2012 average employment of 1,377.

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 2011 was the 55+ year-olds with 29.2 percent of the workforce. They were closely followed by 45-54 year-olds with 25.8 percent of the workforce.

In 2011, 46.1 percent of all industry jobs were held by men and 53.9 percent were held by women. Industry differences are discussed below:

  • Male-dominated industries included agriculture (88.2 percent), construction (87.3 percent), transportation and warehousing (81.1 percent), utilities (72.4 percent) and wholesale trade (73.3 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included accommodation and food service (79.0 percent), healthcare and social assistance (80.1 percent), professional, scientific and technical services (79.7 percent), finance and insurance (78.3 percent) and educational services (62.9 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 2012, there were 2,957 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of just under $93 million.

The County annual average wage was $31,443 in 2012, which is well below the state’s average annual wage of $51,964. In 2012, Lincoln County ranked 36th of 39 counties in the state for average annual wages.

The Lincoln County median hourly wage was $16.91 in 2011, which was well below the state’s median hourly wage of $21.59.

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 2011 the per capita income was $35,466, which was well below the state’s per capita income of $43,878 and the nation’s per capita income of $41,560.

Median household income over the period 2007 to 2011 was $46,765, well below the state’s $58,890.

Over the period 2007 to 2011, 11.5 percent of the population was living below the poverty level in Lincoln County. This compares to 12.5 percent of the state and 14.3 percent of the nation. The poverty rate for children under the age of 18 was 17.6. This compares to 20.0 percent for the nation and 16.5 percent for the state.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Lincoln County’s population was 10,570 in 2010. From 2010 through 2013 the county estimated population grew by 105 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 2010 10,570 6,724,540
Population 2013 10,675 6,882,400
Percent change, 2010 to 2013 1.0% 2.3%

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Lincoln County, as a percent, has a much older age demographic than the state or nation in 2012.

  • Lincoln County’s population age 60 and older was 30.5 percent in 2012 compared to the state’s 19.1 percent.
  • Almost 60 percent of the population in Lincoln County was over the age of 40 in 2012.
  • The youngest age group, those 4 years and younger, was 5.0 percent in 2012 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 93.6 percent of the county’s population compared to 72.5 percent of the state’s population.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Lincoln County Washington state
Population by age, 2012
Under 5 years old 5.0% 6.4%
19 and under 24.3% 25.7%
60 years and older 30.5% 19.1%
Females, 2012 50.1% 50.2%
Race/ethnicity, 2010
White 93.6% 72.5%
Black 0.2% 3.4%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 1.5% 1.3%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 0.4% 7.7%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 2.3% 11.2%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Over the period 2007 to 2011, 91.5 percent of individuals age 25 and older were high school graduates. This figure is higher than that of Washington state (89.7 percent) and the nation (85.4 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 (31.4 percent) or nation (28.2 percent).