Job Growth in Gilliam, Sherman, and Wheeler Counties 2009-2019

by Dallas Fridley

April 13, 2020

Sherman County enjoyed a nonfarm employment increase of 145 jobs or 19 percent between 2009 and 2019 to average 925. Recent windfarm construction aided growth considerably over 2017 to 2019, producing a two-year gain of 90 jobs or 11 percent.
Gilliam County essentially held its own, with a short-term, two-year gain of 135 over 2017 to 2019 – offsetting the loss of 130 jobs from 2009 to 2017. Gilliam County’s nonfarm employment total rose to 925 in 2019, a 10-year gain of just 1 percent.

Wheeler County’s nonfarm employment rose by 25 jobs or 9 percent between 2009 and 2019 to average 295. Over the short term (2017-2019), employment rose by five jobs or 2 percent.

Private industry led Sherman County, averaging 575 jobs in 2019, an increase of 100 or 21 percent over 2009. Government employment rose by 45 jobs over 2009 to 2019 to average 350, an increase of 15 percent. Private industry experienced growth throughout the decade – but most of its growth, an increase of 80 or 16 percent, arrived between 2017 and 2019. Federal government job growth led the public sector, rising by 30 to average 125. State government chipped in 15 jobs to total 55 and local government held steady with 170.

Gilliam County lost 15 private industry jobs over 2009 to 2019 to average 660, a drop of 2 percent. Professional and business services proved to be the exception, producing a gain of 90 jobs or 62 percent to average 235 in 2019. Professional and business services experienced growth throughout the decade – rising by 50 jobs or 27 percent over 2017 to 2019. Gilliam County found itself on the tail end of a wind farm construction boom over 2009 to 2017, cutting 160 private industry jobs. But over the past two years, private industry rose by 145 jobs (+28%), lifted in part by recent wind farm construction. Government offered a mix bag, rising by 30 jobs between 2017 and 2019 while making up for a loss of 15 from 2009 to 2017. Local government produced all of the county’s growth, while state government cut 20 jobs. State government job losses reflect, in part, the reclassification of home care workers to private industry in 2018.
Wheeler County’s private industry employment rose by 35 jobs or 27 percent over 2009 to 2019 to average 295. Nearly all of Wheeler County’s private industry growth, an increase of 30, arrived from 2009 to 2017. Private industry employment rose by just five jobs over the past two years, still good enough for 3 percent growth. Government lost 10 jobs from 2009 to 2019, a drop of 7 percent, to average 130 in 2019.


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