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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 has remained in double digits since the beginning of the recession, with the June 2012 preliminary rate at 11 percent. While certainly a high rate it is an improvement considering 2010 saw the county’s rate remain near 15 percent for several months. The June 2012 nonfarm employment total of 5,470 is still 300 short of that in June 2010.

The labor force in the county is just under 9,000 and the June 2012 total was 8,930, with 7,950 employed and 980 county residents actively looking for work.


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Nonfarm employment in the county is dominated by service-providing jobs. As of June 2012 that category accounted for 4,240 of the total 5,470 nonfarm jobs in the county. In the goods-producing sector, manufacturing provides the bulk of employment, while the service sector employment is led by government jobs.

While the over the year gap has closed, the county increase in nonfarm employment continues to lag pre-recession totals.

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 more jobs in the county with finance and insurance, health care and social assistance and professional and scientific jobs. These were areas were women far outpaced men in employment. Men held more jobs in mining, construction and transportation, and warehousing. The 45-54 age group is the largest employed category in the county.


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 2011 was $30,574. While that average was fairly similar among industries, there were differences. In 2011 the industry paying the highest wages was government, at $43,563, followed by finance, insurance and real estate at $36,616 and agriculture, forestry and fishing at $32,736. The lowest annual average wage was in the service sector where accommodation and food service wages averaged $13,525.

The median average hourly wage in the county lagged the statewide wage nearly $ 5.00 dollars an hour. The Pacific County median average hourly wage was $16.03 as compared to the state’s $21.01

During the period 2006 – 2010, the poverty rate was 16.8 percent, compared to the state at 12.1 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 2010 fell below both the state and national average. In 2010 personal income in the county was $32,295, while the U.S. average was $39,937 and the state’s was $42,589.



(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 2,883, followed by South Bend (1,631) and Long Beach (1,393).

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Pacific County Washington State
Population 2010 20,920 6,724,540
Population 2000 20,984 5,894,121
Percent Change, 2000 to 2010 -0.3% 14.1%

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. Females are also less common here than in the state overall.

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, 2011    
Under 5 years old 4.7% 6.5%
Under 18 years old 18.0% 23.5%
65 years and older 25.3% 12.3%
Females, 2011 49.8% 50.2%
Race/ethnicity, 2010
White 90.9% 77.3%
Black 0.7% 3.6%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 2.7% 1.5%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 2.3% 7.8%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 8.3% 11.2%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

During the period 2006 – 2010, 86.1 percent of persons age 25 and older were high school graduates, similar to the 89.6 rate for the state. However, only 16.8 percent held a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 31 percent for the state.