Q3 Economy: Seattle

Report by ReisReports.

Among the accomplishments of the Seattle area economy over the last couple of decades was a diversification that lessened its dependence on cycles in aerospace manufacturing and related employment trends. A huge and nationally prominent high-technology sector led initially by Microsoft (and more recently augmented by Google and Amazon.com) emerged along with a large health care sector. These, along with trade activity at regional ports provided cushions against the cycles common to local manufacturing. …

Along these lines, data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report month-to-month losses in Manufacturing employment since July’s relative high—a four-month net loss of 3,000 jobs. Preliminary employment in this sector as of November was unchanged year-over-year following a gain of 7,400 jobs (4.5%) over the preceding 12-month span—which followed a still greater gain over the prior 12-month period. Growth in other sectors, however, has kept the economy afloat: indeed, job growth has stayed relatively strong overall. Strongest both quantitatively and in rate of gain over the latest November-to-November span was the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector’s 4.5% (12,200-jobs) increase. Education and Health services added 5,600 jobs for growth at 3.2%, while the Professional and Business Services sector saw a 4,900-jobs increase representing 2.2% growth.

The Construction of Buildings industry expanded by 4.3% adding net 700 jobs. Jones Lang LaSalle expects additional growth in construction as the housing market strengthens and “an abundance of large infrastructure” and commercial real estate project move forward. According to a December report in the Journal, $10 billion in projects were under construction in Seattle per report date with an additional $20 billion in the pipeline. Even the Government sector expanded its employment roster with growth at 1.9% representing the net addition of 4,000 jobs. All told, then, total non-farm employment as of November was up 33,200 jobs (2.3%) from 12 months prior, just slightly off the 38,300-jobs (2.7%) increase recorded for the previous 12 months, despite the subsequent stagnation in manufacturing.

Note. Except if indicated, this report concerns the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Metropolitan Division, a part of the larger Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The Tacoma Metropolitan Division is reviewed in a separate Reis Observer. BLS data cited in this report address the Metropolitan Division.

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