Whatcom County Profile
Whatcom County Data Book
The link below will direct you to a printable PDF version of the current Whatcom County Data Book prepared by the NWEC.
Land & Weather
Whatcom County is located in the furthest northwest corner of Washington State and the continental United States. It contains 2,119.5 square miles of land, making it the 12th largest county within Washington State. Whatcom County is bordered by British Columbia, Canada to the north, Okanogan County to the east, Skagit County to the south, and the Strait of Georgia to the west. Whatcom is situated between two international, metropolitan cities. Vancouver,British Columbia lies 60 miles (98 km) north of Bellingham, and Seattle lies 89 miles (144 km) south of Bellingham. Vancouver and Seattle are linked by I-5 which runs through Bellingham.
Much of the county is mountainous (and part of National Forest and National Parks). Located fifty miles east of Bellingham is the highest peak in the North Cascade mountain range, Mount Baker (10,778 feet), an ice-clad volcano providing the state's longest ski season. The volume of snow and ice on Mount Baker is greater than that of all the other Cascade Mountain volcanoes (with the exception of Mount Rainer) combined. A deep water port, Bellingham's Squalicum Harbor, is the second largest harbor in Puget Sound. (www.portofbellingham.com)
Whatcom County's population estimate for 2008 is 191,000 people. Since 2000, the population increased by 13.5%; which is slightly higher than the 11.1% population increase experienced by Washington State during that same time period. Whatcom County's population is projected to increase by 7.7% in the next five years.
Bellingham is the largest city within Whatcom County with a population of 75,750; followed by Lynden with a population of 11,350. In 2000, Whatcom County had 78.71 people per square mile; by 2008 this population density figure had risen to 90.12 people per square mile.
For a more detailed look at the population of Whatcom County, refer to the Whatcom County Population Datasheet. For information on the 86,000 households located within the County, refer to the Whatcom County Households Datasheet. For additional Whatcom County population information please check out the links below.
According to estimates for August 2008, Whatcom County has a productive labor force of nearly 110,000 workers, with an unemployment rate of 5.6%. Small business plays an important role in Whatcom County with nearly half of the employees working in a firm that employs less than fifty workers. The County is in an at-will employment State as opposed to a right-to-work State.
For a more in-depth look at the labor force of Whatcom County, please review our Whatcom County Workforce & Employment Datasheet. For some statistics on growth trends in the County, check out the Whatcom County Growth Indicators Datasheet. To access a list of Whatcom County's top 25 employers check out the Whatcom County Top Employers document.
Several organizations within Whatcom County help to provide the education and training that promotes a skilled labor force within the County. For information on these organizations refer to the Whatcom County Workforce Training document. Education within the community is vital to generating a knowledgeable labor force; to obtain more information on Whatcom County's school system please refer to the Whatcom County Education Datasheet.
For additional labor force data please refer to the useful websites below.
Whatcom County assesses a property tax ranging from $11.00 to $15.76 per $1000 of assessed value, based on 100% of the assessed property value. Of the taxes collected throughout 2008, over half will be distributed to Whatcom County schools. For a more detailed look at taxes in Whatcom County refer to the Whatcom County Tax Proceeds & Distribution Datasheet.
This region also offers a number of financial incentives for businesses operating within the county. Refer to the Whatcom County Tax Incentives document if you would like a list and descriptions of these financial incentives. The websites below are useful sources when locating additional tax statistics for this area.
The median home price in Whatcom County in 2007 was $290,000. For the second quarter of 2008 the housing affordability index was 90.9 for the County. A score of 100 signifies a balance between the cost of housing and the family's ability to pay for housing. A score below 100 indicates that housing is less affordable. For a more in-depth look at real estate within the community please refer to the Whatcom County Real Estate Datasheet. For additional real estate data please refer to the websites below.
Utilities & Infrastructure
Whatcom County's infrastructure and utilities are a vital part to economic development within the community. Your Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council is constantly making strides to improve the infrastructure within the County. For information on utilities in this area check out the document on Whatcom County Utilities.
Transportation also plays a fundamental role in local economic growth because the ability to transport cargo easily by land, rail, water, and air, helps to ensure the success of many local businesses. The Whatcom County Transportation document contains general information on local transportation along with contact information for other local entities that can provide specifics on transportation within the County. The Whatcom County Highways document provides a list of highways that are within and nearby the County. The Whatcom County Communications document lists local radio stations, TV stations, and printed publications.
With over 55,000 students residing in Whatcom County, education is an integral part of the community. Links to each school district located within Whatcom County, along with links to higher education facilities in the County, and general facts about local education, are provided within the Whatcom County Education document. The links below offer additional statistical information regarding Whatcom County's education system.
St. Joseph's Hospital is a 253 bed, two-campus medical center and a Level III Trauma Center, located in Bellingham Washington. This facility offers comprehensive health care for the Whatcom County region. Services include 24-hour Emergency and Trauma care, Oncology, Cardiology, Mental Health Services, Hospice, Orthopedics, home-like birthing center, and a full range of inpatient and outpatient services.
There are over 200 physicians/surgeons, 130 dentists, 75 chiropractors, and 20 naturopathic physicians serving Whatcom County. The County also offers several physical therapy centers, excellent nursing homes, premium retirement centers, and special care homes for the disabled and elderly. For more information on health care within the County check out the links below.
Sports & Recreation
Whatcom County offers 143 miles of shoreline, 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, and Mount Baker - a very popular destination for skiers and hikers. Bellingham annually hosts the 82.5 mile Ski to Sea relay, a world-class race from Mt. Baker ski area to Fairhaven Village that is held every Memorial Day weekend.
Throughout the year, there are many outdoor activities to take advantage of including: kayaking and sailing in the San Juan Islands, hiking and mountain biking, diving in the Puget Sound, and rock climbing. Twenty-nine miles of trails thread through town, enjoyed by walkers, runners, and bicyclists. Bellingham is also only an hour or two away from the remote alpine lakes of North Cascade National Park. There are endless activities year round to satisfy outdoor lovers. For more information on recreation activities, please visit the sites below.