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Pacific County Profile

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


Regional context

Pacific County is located in the southwestern part of the state with the Pacific Ocean on its western border. It was established as a county in 1851, and its boundaries were adjusted multiple times from 1860 to 1925. The Chinook and Chehalis tribes inhabited the area, and found their numbers greatly reduced by disease introduced by Europeans.

Local economy

Some of the early settlers arrived via shipwreck due to the difficulty in navigating the estuary at the mouth of the Columbia. The Hudson Bay Company attracted fur trappers who settled in the area. The 1845 California Gold Rush created a housing boom in San Francisco, which opened markets for timber and oysters, mainstays of Pacific County. Willapa Bay in the county is the nation’s largest farmed shellfish producer. Cranberry bogs, forest-products, manufacturing and dairy farms are also important to the counties industrial mix. Tourism is also a critical feature of Pacific County economy.


Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Pacific County Rank in state
Land area, 2010 (square miles) 932.66 30
Persons per square mile, 2010 22.4 24



Climbing out of the recession has been a slow process for many of the rural counties in the state and Pacific County has been no exception. The situation has been a wait and see attitude as most sectors of the economy have suffered losses that will take some time to regain. The county’s reliance on tourism has been hurt by high gas prices and the recession in general. The outlook is for slow improvement.

Labor force and unemployment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Unemployment in the county remained in double digits until July 2013, when it dropped to 9.5 percent. Year-over-year, it has improved every month since January 2012. The June 2014 rate is 7.3 percent. The unemployment rate has continued to fall as into August we have posted 5 consecutive months of single digit unemployment. Look for that trend to continue into fall.

Nonfarm employment has shown a steady increase every month since January 2012. The June 2014 total is 6,290, compared to 5,810 in June 2013. While there have been some up months the last several years have seen nonfarm employment hovering in the 5,500-6,000 job range. At this point a steady if not spectacular in growth. Again, look for this trend to continue in the coming months.

The labor force in the county expanded by 300 jobs in the year ending June 2014, or 3.6 percent. The number of unemployed residents dropped by 28.1 percent (-250) in that same time period.


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Nonfarm employment in the county is primarily in service-providing industries, with government being the largest employer. As of June 2014 service industries accounted for 4,940 of the 6,290 nonfarm jobs in the county. In the services sector leisure and hospitality and the trade sector provided the 2nd and 3rd most paychecks after government. In the goods-producing sector, manufacturing provides the bulk of employment.

While the annual job growth turned positive in 2012, this increase in nonfarm employment continues to lag pre-recession totals. That lag will continue for the foreseeable future as the slow march away from the recession continues.

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 is presented by place of work, not place of residence. Some highlights:

Women held the majority of the jobs in the county (52.2 percent) predominately in finance and insurance, health care and social assistance and professional and scientific industries. Men held the majority of jobs in mining, construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting and transportation and warehousing. The 55 and over age group is the largest employed category in the county at 28.3 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)

The county’s average annual wage in 2013 was $32,734. While that average was fairly similar among industries, there were differences. In 2013 the industry paying the highest wages was government, at $44,721, followed by construction ($42,578), finance, insurance and real estate ($38,287) and agriculture, forestry and fishing ($35,707). The lowest average annual wage was in the service industry where arts, entertainment and recreation wages averaged $13,330.

The median hourly wage in the county lagged the statewide wage by nearly $5.00 dollars an hour. The Pacific County median hourly wage in 2012 was $17.19 compared to the state’s $21.64.

During the period 2008 – 2012, the poverty rate was 18.1 percent, compared to the state at 12.9 percent.

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.

Personal income in the county in 2012 fell below both the state and national average. In 2012 personal income in the county was $35,786, while the U.S. average was $43,735 and the state’s was $46,045.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

The population of Pacific County shrank slightly during the past decade, in contrast to overall growth statewide. The largest city is Raymond, with a population of 2,895, followed by South Bend (1,630) and Long Beach (1,410).

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Pacific County Washington state
Population 2013 20,498 6,971,406
Population 2010 20,920 6,724,540
Percent change, 2010 to 2013 -2.0% 3.7%

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

The population of Pacific County is considerably older than that of the state, as evidenced by the percentage in the 65 and older group.

The county is much less diverse than the state in terms of race and ethnicity, with over 90 percent white and just 0.7 percent black. Only American Indians and Alaskan Natives are more common here than in the state.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Pacific County Washington state
Population by age, 2013    
Under 5 years old 4.7% 6.4%
Under 18 years old 17.3% 22.9%
65 years and older 27.4% 13.6%
Females, 2013 50.0% 50.0%
Race/ethnicity, 2013
White 90.3% 81.2%
Black 0.9% 4.0%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 2.9% 1.9%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 2.3% 8.6%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 8.8% 11.9%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

During the period 2008 – 2012, 86.3 percent of persons age 25 and older were high school graduates, similar to the 90.0 rate for the state. However, only 16.7 percent held a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 31.6 percent for the state.