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Clark County has been successful in growing jobs, but many of those gains are offset by increases in the number of households.
Statistics bear out why Clark County remains a bedroom community with not enough jobs for its 481,857 residents.
Jobs to households: In 1990, the county’s jobs-to-households ratio was 0.84, meaning there were 84 jobs for every 100 households. Since then, the county’s ratio has improved slightly, reaching 90 jobs for every 100 households in 2017, but it’s still lower than the other three counties in the Portland-Vancouver area. Multnomah County’s ratio was 1.55 in 2017, followed by Washington County at 1.33 and Clackamas County at 1.03. Among Washington’s 10 most populous counties, Clark County ranked ninth for its jobs-to-households ratio, topping only Kitsap County.
Out-of-state commuting: The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 63,689 county residents worked in a different state in 2016. That number has fluctuated with economic conditions, but about one-third of the county’s workforce continues to commute to Oregon jobs. For 2017, the Oregon Department of Revenue reported receiving 74,139 tax returns from Clark County.
Taxes paid to Oregon: Back in 1980, when only one automobile bridge connected Clark County to Portland, county residents paid $16 million in Oregon income taxes, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue. In 2017, they paid $221.3 million in Oregon income taxes, an eye-popping 1,281 percent increase in slightly more than 35 years. During that same period, Clark County’s population grew by 145 percent.
Assessed values: According to data assembled by the Washington State Department of Revenue, Clark County was the seventh most lopsided county for single-family residential as a percentage of total assessed value among Washington’s 39 counties. In 2016, single-family residential accounted for 74.1 percent of the county’s assessed value. Most of the other six counties above Clark — Island, San Juan, Jefferson, Mason, Kitsap and Chelan — cater to high-income residents and retirees in the Puget Sound region.
Oregon tax returns from Clark County
NOTE: The number of returns includes joint returns where one or both people work in Oregon and does not necessarily reflect actual number of Clark County commuters to Oregon jobs.
SOURCE: Oregon Department of Revenue
• Is Clark County addicted to growth?: Single-family residential development can create short-term gain — and long-term pain
• Numbers point to reliance on residential development in Clark County: County a bedroom community with too few local jobs
• Residential land is pricey to service: It requires $1.16 in services for every $1 generated by taxes
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