Chelan and Douglas County profiles

Washington state map with Chelan and Douglas counties highlightedby Don Meseck, regional labor economist - updated November 2018

Overview | Geographic facts | Outlook | Labor force and unemployment | Industry employment | Wages and income | Population | Useful links|  PDF Profile copy

Overview

Regional context

Chelan and Douglas counties are on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains and are separated by the Columbia River. Chelan and Douglas counties have a very diverse geographic area that includes mountains and lakes and flat areas next to the Columbia River. The varied terrain supports the two major industries in the area, tourism and agriculture.

The legislature created Chelan County in 1899, carving it out of Okanogan and Kittitas counties. Wenatchee is its county seat.

Douglas County is close to the geographic center of the state. Douglas County was created in 1883, named after U.S. Senator Steven Douglas of Illinois who was the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Territories when the Territory of Washington was created. Waterville is the county seat.

Chelan County ranks third in the state in land area while Douglas County ranks 17th. Both counties are sparsely populated as measured by persons per square mile.

Local economy

The first people of the area now known as Chelan and Douglas counties were tribes whose culture and economy centered on fishing and hunting and gathering. The Yakima Treaty of 1855 removed 10.8 million acres from the indigenous people's title to the land. The result was war throughout the territory and eventual movement of tribes to the Colville Reservation.

Trappers and Chinese gold prospectors were among the first non-Indians who lived in the area in the early 1800s. White settlers followed, beginning in the 1870s. Irrigation along with railroads spurred agricultural development in Chelan County, particularly fruit orchards. Now grape vines are replacing some fruit orchards, driving development in wineries.

The Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes both Chelan and Douglas counties, depends heavily upon agriculture as well as seasonal employment in retail and leisure and hospitality. Agriculture tends to be the economic force for the area and it specifically revolves around various tree fruit that includes apples, cherries, pears and peaches. Wineries are playing an increasing role in both agriculture and in tourism. Agricultural employment directly links to nonfarm employment through nondurable goods manufacturing (i.e. food processing), wholesale trade (i.e., fresh fruit packinghouses) and transportation.

Chelan County is on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountain range in central Washington. Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in the country. With its nearly year-round sunshine, it has developed into an all-season outdoor recreational destination. Agriculture is a dominant industry in Chelan County with 23.7 percent of total covered employment in 2017, followed by private health services with 14.0 percent of total covered employment. In addition to agriculture, tourism plays a large part in the local economy with two very popular areas for the state: Lake Chelan and Leavenworth. Lake Chelan is a great tourist area in the summer. Leavenworth provides year-round tourism with a Bavarian-themed village that hosts an Oktoberfest festival and has multiple ski resorts very close to town.

Agriculture in Douglas County, as in neighboring Chelan County, is a pillar of the economy with 25.6 percent of total covered employment in 2017 followed by local government (public school districts, public utility districts, police and fire departments, etc.) with 14.5 percent of covered employment. Many of Douglas County's nonfarm industries such as food manufacturing/processing, warehousing and shipping, transportation (trucking) etc. are heavily dependent on the fortunes of agriculture and define much of the local industry makeup. Also, a regional retail hub is found in East Wenatchee, the largest city in Douglas County, which features North Central Washington's largest shopping mall.

Geographic facts

Chelan County Douglas County Washington state
 Land area, 2010 (square miles) 2,920.53  1,819.26  66,455.52 
 Persons per square mile, 2010 24.8  21.1  101.2 


(Source: 
U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

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Outlook

The Employment Security Department's long-term (i.e., ten-year) nonfarm employment projections produced by the Employment Security Department are for a 1.3 percent average annual growth rate from 2016 to 2026 for the five-county North Central Workforce Development Area or WDA (i.e., Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties) and for a 1.6 percent growth rate for Washington state.

A negative economic event which recently hurt the local economy was the idling of Alcoa's aluminum smelter in Malaga (Chelan County) in January 2016. The Alcoa factory was one of the county's highest-paying businesses. The Wenatchee World newspaper reported that January 5th was the last day of work for all but a handful of the 428 employees at Alcoa's Wenatchee Works smelter. In 2015, wages in manufacturing totaled $106.3 million, or 6.8 percent of total covered payroll ($1.57 billion) countywide and 5.0 percent (2,142 jobs) of total covered employment (42,834). Washington State Employment Security Department Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data show that in 2015 the average annual wage for a manufacturing job in Chelan County was $49,616, while the average annual wage for a job in the primary metal manufacturing subsector was $81,766; quite a bit higher than the average wage for total covered employment in the county of $36,765. The loss of these jobs were felt throughout the local economy in 2016. In fact, by 2016, the average annual wage for a manufacturing job in Chelan County had fallen to $44,189, a 10.9 percent drop from the average annual manufacturing wage in 2015. The number of manufacturing jobs in Chelan County fell 7.6 percent, from 2,142 jobs in 2015 to 1,980 in 2016; and dropped again in 2017 to 1,845 jobs (down 6.8 percent).

Fortunately, recent economic events and developments in Chelan and Douglas counties have been overwhelmingly positive and are likely to diversify and expand the local economy. For example:

  • At the Port of Chelan County all existing Port industrial buildings are full. In the Cashmere Mill District, the Port is constructing two 16,750 square foot general purpose industrial buildings which will be able to accommodate a wide variety of uses (i.e., manufacturing, warehousing, and specialty food and beverage production). Pangborn Memorial Airport had record passenger numbers in the summer of 2018. Alaska Airlines provided a 4th daily flight through this summer and will provided this additional flight again during the upcoming Christmas/Holiday season.

  • At the Port of Douglas County, Phase II of the Pangborn Airport Business Park has been completed. Construction of Phase II of the Pangborn Airport Business Park began in June 2012 and was completed in the spring of 2014. The Port-led $2 million project included grading the 40-acre site at the southeast corner of the airport, extending Fifth Street/Campbell Parkway, and adding utilities and high-speed telecommunications lines. This business park features 16 new lots, two of which have direct access to Pangborn Memorial Airport. The site's attributes include its location adjacent to the airport, the availability of low-cost power and high-speed fiber, and the fact that the site is just a 30-minute drive from Interstate 90. The Pangborn Airport Business Park's first phase – about 30 acres in all – was developed in the late 1990s. The main tenants today include Executive Flight Inc., Coca-Cola Bottling and Accor Technology. Currently, there are still three lots available in this portion of the overall project area, in addition to the 16 new lots created in Phase II.

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Labor force and unemployment

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

Unemployment rates in the Wenatchee MSA (Chelan and Douglas counties) were remarkably consistent in the four-year period from 2005 to 2008 (before the recession). Rates ranged from a low of 5.4 percent in 2007 to a high of 6.0 percent in 2005. This was a relatively narrow range. During the recession, unemployment rates in the Wenatchee MSA increased to 9.2 percent in 2010 before decreasing to 5.9 percent in 2015 (i.e., the pre-recession level of unemployment), edging upwards to 6.0 percent in 2016 (primarily due to the idling of the Alcoa smelter in January 2016 and the subsequent layoffs of over 400 workers at this plant), and declining to a historic low rate of 5.1 percent in 2017. This 5.1 percent reading for 2017 was the lowest average annual unemployment rate in the Wenatchee MSA since electronic records were implemented by our agency in 1980 (28 years ago) – encouraging news for the local economy.

If we look a little deeper at changes in the Civilian Labor Force (CLF) and the number of unemployed in the Wenatchee MSA last year, we observe that both moved in the “right” direction in 2017. Specifically, the average number of unemployed decreased from 3,849 in 2016 to 3,369 in 2017, equating to 480 fewer residents out of work in this two-county area. Simultaneously, the CLF expanded 2.7 percent, from 63,825 in 2016 to 65,530 in 2017 indicating that 1,705 more residents entered the local labor force.

Year over year, monthly unemployment rates declined for 17 months (from October 2016 through February 2018), stagnated in March 2018, rose a tick in April 2018, before declining again for the past six months (May through October 2018). Most recently, between the Octobers of 2017 and 2018, the CLF increased by 3.3 percent (meaning there were 2,191 more residents in the labor force this October than in October 2017). This labor force growth was quite strong, although the number of unemployed grew by 20 (up 0.8 percent) during this timeframe. Nevertheless, the result was encouraging as the unemployment rate dipped from 3.9 percent in October 2017 to 3.8 percent in October 2018. In fact, the current 3.8 percent unemployment rate is the lowest reading in the Wenatchee MSA for the month of October since electronic records were implemented by our agency in 1990 (28 years ago) – certainly an excellent economic indicator.

When evaluating recent labor force trends in Chelan and Douglas counties, it is also helpful to look at the bigger picture (i.e., what's going on in Washington state). Washington's CLF expanded by 89,522 residents (a 2.5 percent upturn) from 2016 to 2017. The state's labor force has grown, year over year, for the past 57 months (February 2014 through October 2018). In October 2018, Washington's CLF tallied 3,823,627 residents versus 3,757,972 in October 2017, equating to 65,655 more Washingtonians in the labor force (up 1.7 percent)

(Source: Employment Security Department)

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Industry employment

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

The analysis in the first part of this section is derived primarily from Current Employment Statistics (CES) data. One advantage of these data is that the employment information is very current and data are updated monthly using CES employment estimates. However estimates are nonfarm related (i.e., they do not include agricultural employment figures). Also, these data combine employment figures for Chelan and Douglas counties into the two-county Wenatchee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

The analysis in the second part of this section is derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage (QCEW) program, conducted by the Washington State Employment Security Department. It takes a little longer to acquire QCEW data, but it is more detailed than CES data and it provides employment, wage and size of firm figures down to the county level. QCEW data include agricultural and nonagricultural employment and wages for firms, organizations and individuals whose employees are covered by the Washington State Employment Security Act. Also included are data for Federal Government agencies covered by Title 5, U.S.C. 85. Covered employment generally exceeds 85 percent of total employment in the state of Washington. Types of jobs not covered under the unemployment compensation system and hence not included in QCEW data include casual laborers not performing duties in the course of the employer’s trade or business; railroad personnel; newspaper delivery people; insurance or real estate agents paid on a commission basis only; non-covered employees working for parochial schools, religious, or non-profit organizations; employees of sheltered workshops; inmates working in penal institutions; non-covered corporate officers; etc.

Analysis using CES data:

Pre-recession total nonfarm employment in the two-county Wenatchee MSA peaked at an average of 40,200 jobs in 2008. Although the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the national recession occurred from December 2007 through June 2009, the effects hit the Wenatchee MSA nonfarm labor market primarily in 2009 and 2010, with the “trough” occurring in 2010. Since this most recent recession, the following average annual employment changes occurred in the local economy:

  • In 2009 – Total nonfarm employment dropped 3.9 percent (down 1,600 jobs) to an average annual figure of 38,700. An industry that was particularly hard hit during this recession was construction. Approximately 800 construction jobs were lost across the two-county Wenatchee MSA as this industry retrenched from 3,000 jobs (in 2008) to an average of 2,200 (in 2009), a 25.4 percent downturn.
      
  • In 2010 – Total nonfarm employment slipped to 38,100 jobs, a 500-job and 1.3-percent downturn. The hardest-hit industry in Chelan and Douglas counties between 2009 and 2010 was construction, which shed 300 jobs, a 7.9-percent decrease.
      
  • In 2011 - The local labor market in the two-county area rebounded to 38,400 jobs, a modest 0.7 percent and 300-job average annual upturn. There were employment fluctuations amongst the major industries in the Wenatchee MSA. But, manufacturing accounted for the lion’s share of job growth, rising from 2,092 jobs (in 2010) to 2,342 (in 2011), a 250-job increase.
      
  • In 2012 - This 300-job average annual uptrend was duplicated with nonfarm employment advancing to 38,700, a 0.7 percent increase. Trade, transportation, warehousing and utilities contributed most of the new jobs to the local economy during 2012.
      
  • In 2013- The tempo of job growth improved to 1.5 percent as the Wenatchee MSA netted 600 new nonfarm jobs and employment rose to 39,300. The “mining, logging, and construction” category rose from 1,700 jobs in 2012 to 2,000 in 2013 with most of the employment upturn occurring in construction.
      
  • In 2014 - The Wenatchee MSA’s nonfarm economy averaged 40,600 a relatively robust 3.4 percent growth pace (slightly more robust than the 2.5 percent growth rate statewide during 2014) as 1,300 new jobs were added to the labor market. Nearly two-thirds of these 1,300 new jobs were in construction (up 300 jobs), health services (up 200 jobs), and leisure and hospitality (up 300 jobs). It took six years for the local nonfarm market to meet and surpass the 2008 employment “peak” of 40,200 jobs; but it finally did so by adding jobs at a modest rates 2011, 2012 and 2013 – with a “strong finish” in 2014.
      
  • In 2015 - The local economy had another good year, in terms of nonfarm job growth. The MSA’s labor market averaged 42,900 jobs, a strong 5.7 percent average annual growth pace and a 2,300 job expansion over 2014. (Washington’s economy expanded at a 2.9 percent clip in 2015.) The industry that generated the most new jobs in 2015 was leisure and hospitality, which, in Chelan and Douglas counties, is comprised primarily of hotels and restaurants. Leisure and hospitality expanded from 5,625 jobs in 2014 to 6,058 in 2015, a 433 job and 7.7 percent increase. Close behind was retail trade which netted 300 more jobs, rising from 5,800 jobs in 2014 to 6,100 in 2015 an advance of 5.0 percent.
      
  • In 2016 – Total nonfarm employment in the Wenatchee MSA did not grow as rapidly in 2016 as in 2015. The MSA’s labor market averaged 44,200 jobs, a 3.0 percent growth pace and a 1,300 job expansion over 2015. Washington’s economy expanded at a slightly faster 3.1 percent clip in 2016. The industry that generated the most new jobs in 2016 in the Wenatchee MSA was leisure and hospitality which netted 500 more jobs in 2016 (6,600 jobs) than in 2015 (6,100 jobs). The industry that lost the most jobs was manufacturing which averaged 2,500 jobs in 2016, a 6.5 percent downturn from the 2,700 jobs tallied in 2015. Idling of Alcoa’s aluminum smelter in Malaga in January 2016 was the primary reason for this manufacturing downturn.
      
  • In 2017 - The Wenatchee MSA’s nonfarm economy averaged 44,900 jobs, a modest 1.7 percent and 700 job increase - less robust than the 2.4 percent growth rate statewide. The main contributors to the 700 job upturn in calendar year 2017 were health services (up 300), construction (up 200), and local government (up 200).

The Wenatchee MSA's economy has expanded during each of the past seven years (2011 through 2017, inclusive). However, the pace of nonfarm job growth cooled substantially in 2016 and 2017; from 5.7 percent (in 2015), to 3.0 percent in 2016, and to 1.7 percent in 2017. The good news is that year-over-year nonfarm job growth rates in the Wenatchee MSA have been “picking up steam” in the first ten months of 2018. In fact, nonfarm job growth rates in our two-county MSA were greater than job growth rates statewide in each of the first six months of 2018, and year-over-year local job growth rates have only slightly lagged Washington’s job growth rates in each month from July through October 2018. Hence, barring unforeseen events, or major downward revisions in our agency’s monthly employment estimates for the last six months of this year, 2018 will likely be a year in which the Wenatchee MSA’s nonfarm labor economy grows at a rate comparable to that of Washington State – and the state has been adding jobs in roughly the two- to three-percent range in each of the first ten months of 2018.  

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Analysis using QCEW data:

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is an industry classification system that groups businesses/organizations into categories or sectors based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged. There are 19 private sectors and three government sectors (for a total of 22 sectors) at the 2-digit NAICS code level, within each county-level economy. One can observe much about the structure of a county’s economy by quantifying and comparing the number of jobs and the percentage of jobs in these sectors by using annual average Quarterly Census of Employment and Wage (QCEW) data. The most recent average annual employment data available for Chelan County and for Douglas County are for 2017 and these data show:

The top five Chelan County sectors in 2017 in terms of employment were:

 Sector Number of jobs Share of employment
 1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing 10,418  23.7% 
 2. Health services 6,169  14.0% 
 3. Local government 5,269  12.0% 
 4. Accommodation and food services 4,690  10.7% 
 5. Retail trade 4,386  10.0% 
 All other industries 12,988  29.6% 
 Total covered employment 43,920  100% 


Chelan County’s covered employment of 43,920 in 2017 was about three-and-a-half times larger than neighboring Douglas County’s covered employment of 12,653 jobs. Over 70 percent of all jobs in Chelan County were in five, two-digit NAICS industries or sectors (i.e., agriculture, health services, local government, accommodation and food services, and retail trade) indicating that this is not a tremendously diverse economy. But, the economic structure of Chelan County is “more the rule than the exception,” and is in fact indicative of the labor market structures of many agricultural-based economies (i.e., in Adams, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan, and Yakima counties) throughout Central Washington. 

A comparison of the top five sectors that provided the most jobs in Chelan County in 2017 with the sectors that produced the highest payrolls follows:

  • Agriculture provided 23.7 percent of all jobs countywide, but supplied only 16.1 percent of total wage income. Why? Many jobs in agriculture are seasonal. The number of agricultural jobs (NAICS 11) rose from 9,995 in 2016 to 10,418 in 2017 across Chelan County, a 423 job and 4.2 percent employment increase. Agriculture was the sector (of all 22 NAICS sectors) which added the most jobs to the Chelan County economy in calendar year 2017.
      
  • Conversely, private health services tallied 14.0 percent of total covered employment, but accounted for 21.4 percent of total wage income – indicating it is a relatively “good paying” industry. The number of health services (NAICS 62) rose from 5,963 in 2016 to 6,169 in 2017 across Chelan County, a 206 job and 3.5 percent employment increase. Hence, health services was the second largest “job generator” in Chelan County in 2017 – behind agriculture.
      
  • The local retail trade sector accounted for 10.0 percent of all jobs in the County, but only 7.4 percent of total wage income, since many retail jobs are part-time.
      
  • More than one in every ten jobs in Chelan County is in the accommodation and food services sector and many of these jobs are at hotels or restaurants. Accommodation and food services (primarily hotels and restaurants) accounted for 10.7 percent of all jobs in Chelan County, but only 5.6 percent of total wage income, a good indicator that many of these positions are part-time, or seasonal.
      
  • Wholesale trade is not shown on the above table because it ranked as the sixth-largest job provider and accounted for 5.2 percent of total covered jobs in Chelan County in 2017. However, in 2017 this sector was the fifth-largest wage provider, tallying 6.7 percent of all wage income countywide (see the “Wages and income” section, below). The lion’s share of jobs in Chelan County’s wholesale trade industry are at fresh-fruit packinghouses. In 2007 there were 1,217 “merchant wholesalers of nondurable goods (NAICS 424)” jobs countywide, but by 2017 there were 1,977 jobs in this subsector. This equates to a 760 job and 62.4 percent jump in employment in this subsector during this most recent ten-year period. The downside, between 2016 and 2017, employment in Chelan County’s wholesale trade industry decreased from 2,261 jobs to 1,977, a 284 job and 12.6 percent contraction. It is possible that some of this recent downturn is due to automation of the packing, sorting, and grading tasks performed in many of these fresh-fruit packing establishments.

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The top five Douglas County sectors in 2017 in terms of employment were:

 Sector Number of jobs Share of employment
 1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing 3,245  25.6% 
 2. Local government 1,837  14.5% 
 3. Retail trade 1,687  13.3% 
 4. Accommodation and food services 958  7.6% 
 5. Health services 809  6.4% 
 All other industries 4,117  32.5% 
 Total covered employment 12,653  100% 


Douglas County’s covered employment of 12,658 in 2017 was 28.8-percent of Chelan County’s covered employment of 43,920 jobs. More than two-thirds of all jobs in Douglas County were in five, two-digit NAICS industries or sectors (i.e., agriculture, local government, retail trade, accommodation and food services, and private health services) indicating that this is not a diverse economy. But, the economic structure of Douglas County is “more the rule than the exception,” and is in fact indicative of the labor market structures of many agricultural-based economies (i.e., in Adams, Chelan, Grant, Okanogan, and Yakima counties) throughout Central Washington. 

A comparison of the top five sectors that provided the most jobs in Douglas County in 2016 with the sectors that produced the highest payrolls follows:

  • Agriculture provided over a quarter of all jobs (25.6 percent) countywide, but supplied only 18.4 percent of total wage income (see the “Wages and income” section, below). Why? This industry still has a relatively high proportion of seasonal jobs. The number of agricultural jobs (NAICS 11) rose from 3,100 in 2016 to 3,245 in 2017 across Douglas County, a 145 job and 4.7 percent employment increase. Hence, agriculture was the second largest “job generator” in Douglas County in 2017 – behind retail trade.
      
  • Local government tallied 14.5 percent of total covered employment in Douglas County, but accounted for 20.2 percent of total wage income – indicating it is a relatively good paying sector.
      
  • The local retail trade sector accounted for 13.3 percent of all jobs, but 10.9 percent of total payroll, in the County. This industry has a relatively high percentage of jobs that are part-time. Although many “brick and mortar” stores statewide are tightening their belts recently because of increased competition with Internet shopping, this Douglas County industry had a good year in 2017. The number of part- and full-time retail trade jobs (NAICS 44-45) rose from 1,520 in 2016 to 1,687 in 2017 across Douglas County, a 167 job and 11.0 percent employment uptrend. Retail trade was the sector (of all 22 NAICS sectors) which added the most jobs to the Douglas County economy in calendar year 2017.
      
  • Accommodation and food services (primarily hotels and restaurants) accounted for 7.6 percent of all jobs in Douglas County, but only 3.9 percent of total wage income, an indicator that many of these jobs are part-time or seasonal. In fact, although this sector is Douglas County’s 4th largest in terms of covered employment, it is the 10th largest (of 22 industries/sectors) in terms of payroll.

For historical industry employment data, contact an economist.

(Source: Employment Security Department)


Industry employment by age and gender

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:

Chelan County – 2017

  • The county’s largest jobholder age group was the 55+ year-olds, accounting for 26.4 percent of the workforce. This group was closely followed by the 25-34 year olds with 20.5 percent of workforce, closely followed by the 35-44 year-olds with 20.4 percent of the workforce.
      
  • Men held 50.2 percent and women held 49.8 percent of all jobs in Chelan County.
      
    • Male-dominated industries included construction (84.1 percent), utilities (74.8 percent) and transportation and warehousing (73.3 percent).
    • Female-dominated industries included healthcare and social assistance (76.7 percent), finance and insurance (75.2 percent) and educational services (67.7 percent).

Douglas County – 2017

  • The county’s largest jobholder age group was the 55+ year-olds with 25.2 percent of the workforce. This category was followed by the 35 to 44 year-olds with 20.9 percent of the workforce.
      
  • Men held 53.0 percent and women held 47.0 of all jobs in Douglas County.
      
    • Male-dominated industries included construction (82.8 percent of the workers in that industry), utilities (73.6 percent) and manufacturing (69.9 percent).
    • Female-dominated included health care and social assistance (80.3 percent), finance and insurance (75.2 percent) and educational services (71.4 percent).

(Source: The Local Employment Dynamics)

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Wages and income

The total covered payroll in 2017 in Chelan County was approximately $1.71 billion. The average annual wage was $39,015 or 62.9 percent of the state average of $62,073.

The top five Chelan County industries in 2017 in terms of payrolls were:

Sector Payroll Share of payrolls
 1. Health services $367,099,678  21.4% 
 2. Local government $275,327,855  16.1% 
 3. Agriculture, forestry and fishing $275,289,498  16.1% 
 4. Retail trade $127,585,070  7.4% 
 5. Wholesale trade $115,080,194  6.7% 
 All other industries $553,138,260  32.3% 
 Total covered payrolls $1,713,520,555  100% 


QCEW data showed that, in 2017, slightly more than two-thirds of all wage income ($1.71 billion) in Chelan County was earned in the five, two-digit NAICS industries or sectors of health services, local government, agriculture, retail trade and wholesale trade.

Although agriculture was clearly the top job provider in Chelan County in 2017, with 25.6 percent of total covered employment; private health services was clearly the top industry in terms of payroll. Health services tallied a $367.1 million payroll in 2017, ranking this industry first out of 22 industries/categories in wage income. This sector (which includes jobs at doctors’/dentists’ offices, in a private hospital or nursing home, at a vocational rehab facility, etc.) provided more than one in every five dollars of wage income (21.4 percent) earned countywide in 2017.

The total covered payroll in 2017 in Douglas County was approximately $465.7 million. The average annual wage was $36,809 or 59.3 percent of the state average of $62,073.

The top five Douglas County industries in 2017 in terms of payrolls were:

Sector Payroll Share of payrolls
 1. Local government $94,030,850  20.2% 
 2. Agriculture, forestry and fishing $85,753,709  18.4% 
 3. Retail trade $50,768,951  10.9% 
 4. Professional and business services $31,332,318  6.7% 
 5. Construction $28,431,001  6.1% 
 All other industries $175,426,876   37.7% 
 Total covered payrolls $465,743,705  100% 


In 2017, QCEW data showed that Douglas County’s labor market provided $465.7 million in wages. Although agriculture was clearly the top job provider in Douglas County in 2017, with 25.6 percent of total covered employment it provided only 18.4 percent of wage income. Conversely; local government tallied only 14.5 percent of total covered employment countywide in 2017, but provided 20.2 percent ($90.2 million) of total covered payroll, ranking this industry first out of 22 industries/categories in wages. Hence, more than one in every five dollars earned in Douglas County in 2017 was earned in a local government organization (i.e., local public schools, public utility districts, police and fire departments, public libraries, etc.).

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 2016 Chelan County’s inflation adjusted per capita income was $47,428 and Douglas County’s per capita income was $36,951. Washington’s inflation adjusted per capita income was $54,579 and the nation was $49,246.

QuickFacts reported that median household income for the period 2012 to 2016 (in 2016 dollars) was $51,845 for Chelan County and $53,758 for Douglas County compared to the state at $62,848 and the nation at $55,322.

Chelan County’s poverty rate was 11.5 percent and Douglas County’s was 12.8 percent over the period 2012 to 2016. In comparison, Washington state’s rate was 11.0 percent and the nation’s rate was 12.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts.

(Source: Employment Security Department; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Bureau of Economic Analysis; U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey)

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Population

Chelan County’s population in 2017 was 76,533, growing 5.6 percent from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017. The pace of growth in the county’s population was less robust than the state’s 10.1 percent growth rate from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017. The largest city in Chelan County is Wenatchee. Other notable cities are Cashmere and Chelan.

Douglas County’s population in 2017 was 41,945, growing 9.1 percent from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017. The county’s growth rate was a bit slower than the state’s 10.1-percent growth rate during this timeframe, but it was still considerably more rapid than neighboring Chelan County’s 5.6-percent pace. The largest city in Douglas County is East Wenatchee. Other noteworthy cities in Douglas County are Bridgeport and Waterville.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)


Population facts

Chelan County Douglas County Washington state
 Population 2017 76,533  41,945  7,405,743 
 Population 2010 72,464  38,431  6,724,545 
 Percent change, 2010 to 2017 5.6%  9.1%  10.1% 


Age, gender and ethnicity

The percent of the population age 65 and older in Chelan County as of July 1, 2017 was 18.4 percent and in Douglas County it was 17.2 percent. Both counties tallied a greater proportion of residents aged 65 and up versus Washington state (15.1 percent) and the nation (15.6 percent).

As of July 1, 2017, Chelan County’s (23.9 percent) and Douglas County’s (25.9 percent) shares of the population under 18 years of age were also larger than that of the state at 22.2 percent and the U.S. at 22.6 percent, respectively.

The population under the age of 5 years was slightly higher in Chelan County at 6.5 percent and in Douglas County at 6.4 percent than the state at 6.2 percent and the nation at 6.1 percent (as of July 1, 2017).

Chelan County was 50.1 percent female and Douglas County was 49.6 percent female in 2017. The state’s ratio was 50.0 percent while the U.S. share was 50.8 percent.

Chelan and Douglas counties each recorded between one-quarter and one-third of their total populations in 2017 as Hispanic or Latino. Specifically, in 2017 the share of Hispanics in Chelan County was 28.1 percent in Chelan County and 31.8 percent in neighboring Douglas County, much higher than the 12.7 percent statewide ratio.


Demographics

Chelan County Douglas County Washington state
 Population by age, 2017
Under 5 years old 6.5%  6.4%  6.2% 
Under 18 years old 23.9%  25.9%  22.2% 
65 years and older 18.4%  17.2%  15.1% 
 Females, 2017 50.1%  49.6%  50.0% 
 Race/ethnicity, 2017
White 93.2%  93.2%  79.5% 
Black 1.0%  0.8%  4.2% 
American Indian, Alaskan Native 2.0%  2.1%  1.9% 
Asian, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander 1.5%  1.4%  9.7% 
Hispanic or Latino, any race 28.1%  31.8%  12.7% 


Educational attainment

According to the 2012-16 American Community Survey (ACS) a lower percentage of adults age 25 years and older in Chelan County (82.6 percent) and in Douglas County (81.1 percent) were high school graduates or higher than in the state (90.6 percent) or across the nation (87.0 percent). Correspondingly, there were fewer college graduates in these counties compared to the state and nation. In Chelan County, 25.3 percent of residents age 25 and older held a bachelor’s degree or higher while in Douglas County the share was only 17.7 percent. Conversely, in Washington state the percent of the adult population earning a bachelor’s degree or higher was 33.6 percent and across the U.S.A. the figure was 30.3 percent.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)


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