Clark County, Washington, is located in the southwest part of Washington State. It is bounded by the Columbia River to the west and south, with Cowlitz County to the north and Skamania County to the east. Surveys show that the legal boundary of Clark County is 656.6 square miles*, ranging in elevation from 10 to 3,000 feet.
Vancouver is the county seat. The Clark County Courthouse is at 1200 Franklin Street, and the Public Service Center is at 1300 Franklin Street in downtown Vancouver.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Clark County:
- Does it really rain all the time?
- How many people live in Clark County?
- What does housing cost?
- What is the per capita income of Clark County residents?
- Where do people work?
1. Does it really rain all the time?
Although winter rains can inspire some residents to pursue tropical getaways, these weather systems also prevent the extreme cold experienced by many other areas of the country. Overall, Clark County enjoys a mild climate, thanks to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Cascade mountains to the east. The seasons are well-defined, but they transition into each other very gradually.
The average annual temperature in the county is approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Average low-elevation temperatures range from mid to upper 30s in January to the mid to upper 60s in July. The average growing season on the county's western plains ranges from 154 days at Battle Ground to 178 days at La Center and 222 days at Vancouver.
Seventy percent of the county's precipitation falls between November and March. Rainfall amounts vary quite a bit, ranging from about 38 inches in Vancouver to almost 80 inches in Yacolt. Mountainous areas in northeastern Clark County can receive more than 120 inches of rain annually. Average annual snowfall ranges from about 7 inches in Vancouver to several feet in the mountains, although snow does not happen every year. Prevailing winds over most of the county are northwesterly during the summer and southeasterly during the winter.
2. How many people live in Clark County?
Currently more than 383,300 people call Clark County home. During much of the 1990s it was the fastest growing county in the state of Washington. By 2025, it is expected that between 474,000 and 621,700 people may live in this area.
In 2004 an estimated 184,650 people lived outside of cities in unincorporated Clark County, while 198,650 lived in the county's seven cities. The largest city is Vancouver with a population of 152,900. Others are Camas (15,360), Washougal (10,770), Battle Ground (14,220), Ridgefield (2,195), La Center (1,990), and Yacolt (1,135).
What is the fastest growing city? Battle Ground grew by 114 percent from 1990 to 2000. The city's population in 1960 was about 900 people, about 2,700 in 1980, and more than 14,000 in 2004. The slowest growing city from 1990 to 2000 was Ridgefield at 21 percent. About 1,800 lived in Ridgefield in 1990 compared to 2,195 in 2004.
3. What does housing cost?
In 1980 the average house in the county sold for $56,000. Today the same house sells for $224,200. In 2002, more than 1,200 single family housing permits were issued, valued at more than $273 million.
4. What is the per capita income of Clark County residents?
This is total income divided by the total population. This was $29,191 in 2002, which compares to $30,906 for all of the United States and $32,638 for the state of Washington. The richest city per capita in 1999 was Camas at $27,000 per person. The poorest was Yacolt at $12,500.
What is the median family income? Most households brought in $33,734 in 1990, which increased to $51,752 in 2004. About 7 percent of all families had incomes below the poverty level in the year 2000.
Although there were 115,680 jobs in Clark County in 2003, many residents drive across the river to work in Oregon. When the I-205 Bridge opened in 1983, about 39,000 vehicles crossed each weekday. This number rose to about 142,000 in 2003 and is still growing. In 2003 there were about 130,000 daily crossings of the Interstate 5 Bridge.
5. Where do people work in Clark County?
In November, 2003, the top employers were Vancouver School District, Southwest Washington Medical Center, Evergreen School District, Hewlett-Packard Co., Clark County, Clark College, Fred Meyer, Inc., Bonneville Power Administration, Battle Ground School District, Safeway Stores, and Georgia Pacific Corp.
Between now and 2005, Clark County expects to have almost 7,500 additional job openings a year. Nearly 78 percent of all new jobs will be in transportation, communications, utilities, trade, finance, insurance, real estate, services, and government.