The Walla Walla Trends project seeks to improve local, public decision making by providing relevant data in an easily navigable website. The data provided on this website is offered as neutral information.

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0.2.1 Residual Net Migration
Walla Walla County’s population is expanding entirely from in-migration, as deaths in the county now outnumber births. Recently, net in-migration has been the strongest since the 1990s. Estimates place the gain of new residents in 2023 over 2022 at 689.  That is slightly below the all-time peak of 750, observed in the 1997-1998 period.


2.2.3 Public High School On-Time Graduation Rate

Graduating from high school is one of the most important milestones in a person’s life. The graduation rate is also a core metric of the success of a school district. The general measure is based on a cohort of students starting the 9th grade and calculated the ratio of the number of graduates to the size of the cohort during the senior year. This particular measure uses the “on-time” rate, assuming that students take four years to move from 9th to graduation.  
For the past decade, the average graduation rate among the public-school districts in Walla Walla County have stayed at 81-82%. This is now slightly less than Washington state average.

2.6.2 Share of the Population Ages 25+ with at Least Some College or an Associate's Degree

While a high school diploma is an important educational milestone, it shouldn’t be the last one. The success of a student to engage in training for a trade or to matriculate to a 2- or 4-year college is essential to one’s earning prospects. And to the overall quality of the local workforce. This measure tracks the share of the adult (25+) population in Walla Walla and Columbia Counties who have attended at least some community college courses, whether or not they have received an associate’s degree.
For 2022, the share of adults in the two counties with this educational profile was about 34%. That bested the experience of both the U.S. and Washington, although it lies below the peak reached here in 2018.


5.1.3 Housing Affordability Index for First-Time Homebuyers

A housing affordability index (HAI) is a measure of household income to household mortgage costs. In this case, it uses the median resale house price and the median value of the household income in Walla Walla County. To be “in balance,” the calculations assume that the household does not spend more than 25% of its income on monthly mortgage bills. Formally, this balance is assigned a value of 100. Anything below 100 indicates the absence of affordability.


1.3.1 Total Civilian Labor Force & Labor Force Participation Rate of Population Ages 16+

The size of a region or community’s workforce is the sum of the number of residents working plus those unemployed but still looking for work. It represents an important dimension of the capacity of the local economy to expand. 
Unlike other eastern Washington metros, the size of the labor force in Walla Walla County never dipped during the pandemic. But it has grown very slowly. For 2023, it stood at about 30,800. In 2019, it was about 30,400.

1.3.2 Total Number of Employed Persons & Unemployment Rate

Besides the headline number of the unemployment rate is a key barometer of workforce health, the number people employed. Year-to-year changes reveal job growth, usually a core goal of economic development. And unemployment rates can fall even as the number of residents employed also falls. 
The number of County residents employed did dip during the pandemic, However, by 2022, employment numbers here exceeded those 2019. In 2023, the average number of residents employed was 29,590.

1.5.5 Quarterly Residential Building Permits & Number per 1,000 Residents

Building permits offer a window into future construction and, given the industry’s ripple effects, into future economic activity. This measure tracks typically the largest component of construction, residential projects.

While the first half of 2023 showed strong year-over-year growth in residential permits, the second half did not. The total of 79 was much lower than in 2022, yet higher than 2021. Generally, the rate of permit issuance here, on a per capita basis, has been much lower than the state average.

1.6.2 Total and Share of Youth Population Ages 0-17 Living in Poverty

The estimates of youth (ages 0-17) living in poverty are derived from the Federal Poverty thresholds, calculated by Census. They change from year to year by the consumer price index and also vary within each year by the size of the family. Higher incomes are needed for families with children to stay above the poverty threshold. 
In the past two years (up to 2022) the estimates of youth poverty in the Walla Walla metro area, which includes Columbia County, are the lowest on record. The rates for both years were about 10.5%, far below the rate of 25% a decade ago.



list updated 3.28.2024

The complete list of Walla Walla Trends can be found here.

New Intern Feature


Dorothy Bergland

Hometown: Spokane, WA
Major: Accounting
Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2025

Post-graduation plans:
I plan to get my CPA and find work in Forensic Accounting.

After a few months of working on the Trends project, my favorite thing so far:
As a lifelong Washingtonian, the Trends project has given me the opportunity to get to know my state better. It is very exciting to get to do this research for each county that they in turn will use to shape improved public policies