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February 14, 2018

Washington Manufacturing: A love story

By: Bobbi Cussins   Comments: 0
Washington's manufacturing love affair goes back to shortly after Washington officially became a state.

The manufacturing base's roots began with timber, aerospace and agriculture.

Today, the manufacturing sector in Washington still boasts an enviable presence in those sectors, but it's so much more than that.

From woolen textiles and carbon fiber car parts to fine wines and spirits, the manufacturing sector is as diverse as the state's landscape.

Not only does the sector drive Washington’s economy, it is key to supporting families in living-wage jobs across the state:

  • Manufacturers employ 284,500 Washingtonians.
  • In 2015, manufacturing generated more than $58 billion in output and produces nearly $60 billion in goods annually, representing 13 percent of the state’s gross product.
  • Manufacturing represents nearly 9 percent of all non-farm employment.
But, like every love story, there is always room to make the relationship stronger.

Since 2000, the manufacturing sector has lost roughly 50,000 jobs, most of which were outside of the aerospace sector. To help reverse that trend, lawmakers in both parties overwhelmingly approved a reduction in the business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for manufacturers last summer, making it equal to the rate that aerospace companies pay. Unfortunately, the measure was vetoed before it could take effect.

AWB thinks lawmakers should show manufacturers how much they care about the sector -- and the good-paying careers they support -- by reinstating the tax relief this year.

Manufacturers are also looking to woo more skilled workers, something lawmakers are working on this year. AWB-supported bills are advancing that would support career and technical education (CTE) and vocational programs and training in high employer demand fields in rural counties.

While boxes of chocolates, flowers and cards adorn offices and homes across the nation, it's worth noting that the boxes, vases, paper and ink were all made lovingly by manufacturers and their employees.