Jefferson County economy lagging, civic leaders told

PORT HADLOCK — Washington State University economist Gary W. Smith served a full-course meal of statistics Thursday to Jefferson County political and business leaders and critics.

Now, it's up to them to digest the material without getting indigestion.

Smith's data show the county lags behind the state and country in per capita income, average wages, personal income and jobs.

But the information also shows the county has weathered cutbacks in logging and fishing industries while diversifying commercial businesses.

Jefferson County has had the greatest job growth in services — like the rest of the country, which has been smitten by fast-food outlets and dot-com providers. Retail trade jobs have also added to the mix as have government positions.

“I view my role as providing the context, background and perspective,” Smith said. “This gives people a broader picture of what's happening and provides a collective context to engender discussion and dialog on what can be done with the information.”

Smith said Jefferson County's economic conditions are similar to those of many other rural counties throughout the United States, but with one significant difference.

“Jefferson County is sitting alongside the path of growth on the I-5 corridor,” he said. “That influence will continue to play out, but the challenge is whether you can shift your paradigms to take advantage of that proximity.”

This report appears in full in today's Jefferson County edition of the Peninsula News. Look for it at newstands and stores throughout the county, or click on “Subscribe” at left to order your copy via U.S. mail.

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