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Region sees recovered growth in employment

During the pandemic (2020-2021), over 130,000 jobs, or more than 6.1% of total employment, in the Puget Sound region were lost, erasing roughly three years’ of growth the region had experienced. Luckily, with the COVID-19 vaccines and lifting of pandemic restrictions, employment surged in 2021, and by 2022, the region recovered with a gain of over 126,000 jobs, or 6.3%, that year.

In a new Puget Sound Trend PSRC details employment growth within in the region. Here are some of the findings.

Employment Growth by County

Even though there was a large recovery in employment, it has not been distributed evenly across the central Puget Sound region. King and Pierce County have surpassed their 2020 job totals, while Kitsap and Snohomish’s climb has been slower, with neither surpassing- nor meeting- their 2020 employment levels.

Snohomish County experienced an over 8% decline in jobs between 2020 and 2021 and has had the slowest rebound, only growing 4.9% between 2021 and 2022. In Kitsap County, the region saw a 5% decrease in employment between 2020 and 2021 and an increase of 4% from 2021 to 2022.

King County had over a 6% decline in jobs during the height of the pandemic but saw about a 7% increase from 2021-2022. Pierce County had similar growth rates, with a 4% decline in jobs between 2020 and 2021 and a growth of 5.2% between 2020 and 2021.

Employment Growth by Sector


Some industry sectors in the region have witnessed inequitable recoveries throughout the region. During the pandemic, sectors like manufacturing, government, and education experienced significant employee reductions without a strong recovery, while industries like warehousing, transportation, and utilities have rebounded immensely.

Manufacturing had the largest impact of employment during the pandemic, with 14.5% of jobs lost within that sector, and it still hasn’t recovered, with jobs only growing to 2.2% last year. The best-performing sector has been warehousing, transportation, and utilities, with their employment surging over 12% between 2021-2022.

Retail and services sectors saw a superficial flux in their job numbers between 2021 and 2022, as the federal government reclassified jobs in retail. The classification change is reflected in a decline in retail employment and an increase in services employment.

For a detailed look into employment in the Puget Sound region check out our new Puget Sound Trend.