Op-ed by Director Lisa Brown: How the coronavirus changed Washington state’s economy

(Op-ed published in Crosscut on March 9, 2021)

Screenshot of an online dashboard showing the changes and trends in metrics like employment levels, retail sales, time spent outside the home and more. A map of the state shows year over year employment rate changes in each county.
Commerce’s economic recovery dashboard tracks several metrics related to Washington’s economic recovery. Several of these metrics can be broken down to view trends across different industries, in each county of the state, and among major demographic groups.
  • Some industries are thriving while others are barely hanging on. Manufacturing is, by far, the hardest hit, a result of the steep drop in aerospace manufacturing, and it continues to decline. The leisure and hospitality industry — which includes hotels and restaurants — is also struggling, but is slowly beginning to recover. Construction, an industry usually among the most vulnerable in a recession, is largely back to pre-pandemic levels. Fortunately, some sectors of our economy are actually growing, including retail (primarily e-commerce) and information technology, both of which are outperforming the United States average, according to the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council’s January update.
  • A disproportionate percentage of Pacific Islander, Black and Latino workers are filing unemployment claims. This correlates to the industries where a disproportionate share of those in the workforce are people of color, such as the service sector. The people more likely to be caring for our children, tending to the sick, serving food, stocking groceries, cleaning streets and keeping daily life moving are struggling the most.
  • People are currently spending 14% less time out and about than before the pandemic. This means we’re not driving, ride sharing or taking public transportation as much. Significant numbers of people working from home means fewer stops to coffee shops, lunch spots and dry cleaners. Even where it is possible to shop or eat out, some people no longer have the financial means to do so, while others are choosing to limit activities until they feel safer.

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Washington State Department of Commerce official news and information. Our mission is to strengthen communities in our state.

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Washington State Department of Commerce

Washington State Department of Commerce

Washington State Department of Commerce official news and information. Our mission is to strengthen communities in our state.

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