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Distressed Areas and Rural Counties in Washington

The Distressed Areas List identifies all counties with a three-year average unemployment rate equal to or greater than 120 percent of the statewide unemployment rate. For the period from January 2009 to December 2011, Washington had a three year average of 9.5 percent unemployment. Ten counties are on the distressed list for 2012.

Map of Distressed Counties - 2012

(January 2009 - December 2011)

Map of 2006 distressed counties

Source data: Washington State Employment Security Department

Most distressed counties are considered rural (see below).

Rural Counties 2012

A rural county has a population density of less than 100 persons per square mile as defined in RCW 43.160.020 section 5 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/). More recent legislation has expanded the definition to include counties smaller than two hundred twenty-five square miles. This addition considers Island County as rural despite a population density of more than 385 people per square mile.

Rural counties in WA map


Source data: Washington State Office of Financial Management

The chart below shows the average unemployment from January 2009 to December 2011.

chart of 3 year average unemployment in WA by county


Source data: Washington State Employment Security Department