2019 Competitiveness Redbook

The 2019 Competitiveness Redbook is a data-driven guide to Washington’s economic health that uses comparisons with other states to illustrate performance in a variety of key indicators. And, it's now available to purchase in hard-copy ($12). We're currently working on the digital version that should be available shortly ($7).

The latest numbers show Washington's job growth a strength in Washington, with 102,500 new jobs added over the previous year (Table 4), which represents 3.1 percent growth and landing the state in the 6th spot nationally.

High-tech and manufacturing remain important drivers of Washington’s economy, fueling much of the job and population growth in the central Puget Sound region. Washington dropped two spots to 11th-highest in the nation for high-tech employment with 363,454 workers (Table 19) and the 13th-most populous state (Table 1) overall.

In another sign of economic strength, Washington’s gross domestic product (GDP) jumped six places
over the previous year, moving up one spot to 13th in the nation and No. 2 in annual percentage growth (Table 7).

Washington’s exports — an important part of the state’s economy — increased compared to the previous year, but  dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the nation for exports per capita and third in overall exports (Table 8).

The data show Washington continuing to face several challenges, particularly regarding the cost of doing business.

Washington remains a relatively high-cost state for employers. Washington ranks No. 9 in the cost for unemployment insurance taxes, up one spot from last year's ranking of No. 10 in the country (Table 24). And, the state retained its highest-in-the-nation rank for workers’ compensation benefits (Table 26). Washington’s state minimum wage remains tied for highest in the country, as well (Table 27).

Washington dropped out of the top spot to No. 2 in the nation in CNBC’s annual ranking of the top states for business (Table 13). The rankings cited economic growth,  technology and innovation and access to capital among other factors. Washington’s lack of a state income tax has also helped boosts its score in various business climate rankings.

Overall, the 2019 Redbook shows Washington remains strong in several key categories, but some longtime concerns remain, including business cost and education rankings.

As policy makers consider tax and regulatory policy issues, we hope they find this data to be a useful resource.

To order copies of the 2019 Competitiveness Redbook, contact Jason Hagey at JasonH@awb.org or 360.943.1600.