Regional employment trends in manufacturing

Gradual decline since 2016

The manufacturing sector remains an important generator of jobs in the central Puget Sound region, accounting for 9% of all regional jobs, but trends show a gradual decline in manufacturing jobs that varies by county.

The central Puget Sound region is home to the fourth largest manufacturing and distribution area in the nation, contributing 178,400 jobs to the regional economy. More than half of these jobs are in Aerospace Manufacturing, where companies like Boeing continue to drive the concentration of regional manufacturing jobs. Other Materials Manufacturing companies help keep the region on the cutting edge of key export industries such as Life Sciences & Global Health, Military & Defense, and Clean Technology.  

PSRC has indexed regional employment trends for the manufacturing sector to the year 2008 to show progression through the Great Recession and recovery.

Between 2010 and 2013 the region recovered most of the manufacturing jobs lost during the Great Recession. Trends then held steady through 2016. Since then, industry has seen a gradual decline while overall employment in the region has increased.

Manufacturing employment in Pierce and King counties never fully recovered jobs lost during the Great Recession.

Kitsap County has seen gradual increases in manufacturing employment since a low in 2010 and continued to grow jobs through 2017 when it leveled off.

Snohomish County experienced the smallest drop due to the Great Recession – about an 8% decrease from 2008 levels. The county recovered jobs lost by the end of 2011 and saw significant additional job growth by the end of 2013 and then plateaued through 2016. Most of the drop in total regional manufacturing employment since 2016 has been driven by conditions in Snohomish County.

Like all regional industries, manufacturing has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several manufacturing sub-industries, including Machinery & Electronic Manufacturing and Food & Beverage Production & Manufacturing, have seen more than 8% of their pre-COVID workforces file for continued unemployment claims. For more information on unemployment trends, see this recent blog post.

This month, PSRC staff began working on an update to Amazing Place, the region’s economic strategy. Due for adoption late next year, the report will include updated analysis and industry profiles.