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Stevens County Profile

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


Regional context

Stevens County is located in the northeast corner of Washington, bordering both Canada and Spokane County. The County is rural and ranks fifth in the state in terms of land area and 28th in the state for population density. Population in 2013 was 78 percent rural and 22 percent urban. Most of the Spokane Indian Reservation is located in Stevens County on 237.5 square miles. Colville is the largest town in Stevens County.

Local economy

From the 1850s through 1910, Stevens County was one of the state’s top silver and copper producers. Forest products have also dominated the economy. Over the past 20 years, the economy has diversified from its dependence on resource extraction. This diversification has been the result of increasing service-providing businesses. In addition, the county’s manufacturing of non-wood products has been increasing resulting in new manufacturing diversity.

Stevens County tends to have one of the highest unemployment rates as well as a lower labor force participation rate in the state. County employment has been volatile since 2000. Over the last three years total employment remained flat. The unemployment rate has remained higher than was normal for most of the prior decade, especially when compared to the state or the nation. This is especially true over the last three years as the unemployment rate has been between 12 and 10 percent.


Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Stevens County Rank in state
Land area, 2010 (square miles) 2,477.77 5
Persons per square mile, 2010 17.6 28



For Stevens County, recovery from the recession has been long and slow. It will take the county’s economy several years to build back to where it was prior to the recession. Prior to the recession job growth for Stevens was averaging 1.1 percent annually for the past 20 years. Since 2009 it has experienced annual declines, although 2013 may show a turnaround.

Current demand in the housing and other resource related markets should positively affect the County’s timber, manufacturing and mining industries. It is likely the pace of local hiring will increase, although at a modest rate due to technology and efficiency increases in manufacturing.

With an increase in retirees into the region and changing demographics, total health care employment has grown. But only modest increases are forecasted due to consolidation of hospitals, clinics and labs which have slowed employment increases.

Budget reductions are likely to decrease government employment in 2014. Any reduction will have a noticeable effect in a county with over 32 percent of its jobs in government.


Labor force and unemployment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

The Stevens County civilian labor force averaged 17,390 in 2013, down from the 2012 average of 17,620. The 2013 county unemployment rate averaged 10.6 percent. This was a decrease from 2012 but was due to a declining labor force rather than an increase in jobs. Employment in 2013 decreased slightly (50).


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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

Stevens County averaged 9,580 nonfarm payroll jobs in 2013 which was an increase of 60 from 2012. This increase in payroll jobs could signal an increase in total jobs for 2014.

  • Goods-producing employment increased by 60 in 2013. Most of the increase was posted in construction. Manufacturing jobs remained at 2012 totals but according to employers their markets are getting better, so any growth in the last half of 2013 should continue into 2014.
  • Service-providing employment in 2013 averaged near 2012 levels. This sector has some challenges in 2014 with possible reductions in government and the merging of community banks.
  • Government employment averaged 3,020 in 2012. Through November 2013, average annual government employment was 2,950.

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 age group in Stevens County in 2011 was the 45 to 54 year-olds with 24.8 percent of the workforce. This percentage was followed by jobholders age 55 to 64 and 35 to 44, with about 20 percent of the workforce respectively.

In 2011, men held 48.6 percent and women held 51.4 percent of the jobs in Stevens County. There were substantial differences in gender dominance by industry.

  • Male-dominated industries included: mining (92.6 percent), agriculture (87.0 percent), construction (86.4 percent), manufacturing (82.1 percent) and utilities (77.6 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included healthcare and social assistance (81.3 percent), educational services (68.7 percent) and finance and insurance (71.6 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 2012, there were approximately 9,507 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of over $318.8 million.

The 2012 average annual wage was $33,537, well below the state’s average annual wage of approximately $51,964.

The median hourly wage in 2011 was $17.68, below the state’s median hourly wage of $21.59. The median hourly wage for the state less King County was $19.20.

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 personal income in Stevens County was $28,559, less than the state ($43,878) and the nation ($41,560).

According to the U.S. Census QuickFacts, the median household income was $42,746 in 2008 to 2012. The county’s median was less than the state ($59,374) and the nation ($53,046).

Over the period 2008-2012, 16.6 percent of the population was living below the poverty level, higher than the state at 12.9 percent and nation at 14.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census QuickFacts.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Office of Financial Management )

Stevens County’s population was 43,800 in 2013, with 78 percent of the residents living in unincorporated areas. The population grew at a rate of 0.6 percent from 2010 to 2013, compared to the state’s growth rate of 2.3 percent. The largest city in Stevens County is Colville (population 4,685 in 2013).

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Stevens County Washington state
Population 2013 43,800 6,882,400
Population 2010 43,531 6,724,543
Percent change, 2010 to 2013 0.6% 2.3%

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Proportionately more of Stevens County’s population was 65 years and older compared with the state. In 2012, the county had 19.0 percent of its population in that category compared with 13.2 percent in the state. Those residents 19 years and under made up the largest proportion of the county residents, at 25 percent.

Stevens County showed much less diversity in 2012 than the state in all racial/ethnic categories except American Indians and Alaska Natives. They made up 5.6 percent of the county’s population compared with 1.8 percent of the state.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Stevens County Washington state
Population by age, 2012
Under 5 years old 5.0% 6.4%
19 and under 25.4% 25.8%
65 years and older 19.0% 13.2%
Females, 2012 49.8% 50.1%
Race/ethnicity, 2012
White 89.8% 81.6%
Black 0.5% 3.9%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 5.6% 1.8%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 0.8% 8.4%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 3.0% 11.7%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Most of Stevens County residents age 25 and older (90.8 percent) were high school graduates, which compares favorably with that of the state (90.0 percent) and of U.S. residents (85.7 percent) over the period 2008 to 2012.

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher made up 18.9 percent of Stevens County residents age 25 and older compared to 31.6 percent of state residents and 28.5 percent of U.S. residents.