Cargo transportation was among the various regional industries driving wage and employment growth in King County. Photo via PxHere

Cargo transportation was among the various regional industries driving wage and employment growth in King County. Photo via PxHere

King County employment numbers continue to rise

New statistics show a decrease in unemployment and higher average pay, but the growth may start to slow.

Newly released data from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm what we all already knew: King County’s growing economy is chugging along at a quick clip.

From September 2016 through September 2017, King County had the largest bump in employment among nine other large counties in the state of Washington, increasing by almost 3 percent. Last year’s increase brings the total number of employed people in King County to 1,367,100 (King County’s population is a little over 2 million).

Additionally, wages increased during that time frame. The bureau reported that average weekly wages in King County increased by almost 3 percent—coming in second to Yakima County—while King County maintained the highest average weekly wage at $1,626. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked King County’s average weekly wage growth among the top 20 counties nationwide.

“Year over year growth … [has] been really consistent for the last couple years,” says Anneliese Vance-Sherman, an economist with the Washington state Employment Security Department specializing in the central Puget Sound region. “It still seems like there is a lot of momentum, especially in the Seattle area.”

The majority of both the employment and wage growth is driven by two broad industry categories: information services (i.e. the tech sector) and the combination of the trade, transportation, and utility industries. The latter category includes retail and wholesale trade, cargo transportation and warehousing, and utility services. Other key sectors fueling employment growth include the construction, education, and healthcare industries.

Vance-Sherman attributes the spike in wages to high-paying tech jobs skewing the weekly average. “In King County, when you’re seeing an increase in the average wage, absolutely that has to do with the creation of a lot of high wage jobs related to IT.”

According to BLS’s analysis, the ten largest counties in Washington State—all boasting employment tallies of 75,000 or more—accounted for 85 percent of total employment in the state during the 2016-17 time frame.

After losing 79,000 jobs immediately following the 2008 recession, King County has been at the forefront of the statewide economic recovery. And the region’s population and economy are only expected to grow. The Puget Sound Regional Council projects that the central Puget Sound region—which includes portions of King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties—will add a little over 1 million jobs and almost 2 million more people by 2050.

Vance-Sherman has a slightly more cautious take, arguing that while she doesn’t foresee an imminent economic slowdown, that regional economic growth won’t continue at its current rapid rate forever.

“Certainly we’re not likely to keep up the pace that we’ve had,” she says. “What you’re going to see … is that the unemployment rate is going to continue to decline, but not by much.”

More in News

Exit poll indicates Washington voters still support climate change action

State environmental organizations’ poll points to continuing support for carbon-reducing measures.

Attendees gather after the Dec. 21, 2018, meeting at Seattle’s Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.
Washington indigenous communities push for action to address violence against women

A new law seeks to strength data collection on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Voter registration deadline Jan. 14 for Special Election

The special election includes Renton School District ballot measures

Charles Pillon sits inside one of the several buses on Iron Mountain. Photo by Caean Couto
                                <em>Photo originally published <a href="http://www.rentonreporter.com/news/the-last-days-of-iron-mountain/" target="_blank">here</a></em>
Federal lawsuit filed to finish cleanup of Iron Mountain

The EPA has filed a lawsuit to extend their cleanup warrant after the owner denied further access

Construction closes Coulon deck, and more community news

Film screening coming to Renton Library The Renton Library will be hosting… Continue reading

A clip of the Renton Reporter when Law was leading votes for the mayoral election in 2007. Law is now serving his third, and final, term as mayor.
Mayor prepares for final months in office

Mayor Law said he will focus on seniors, public safety and the Family First Community Center

Renton toddlers graduate Kindering, and more community news…

Nominate an outstanding Renton woman The Renton Business & Professional Women Organization… Continue reading

Wikimedia Commons CFCF photo
Proposed law would raise age limit for tobacco sales in WA

Lawmakers cite health concerns over tobacco and vape products

File photo
Seattle area braces for three-week SR 99 closure

Expect more congestion, longer commutes

Most Read