Washington’s Economy Needs Attention Outside of Puget Sound

An editorial in The Longview Daily News  examines the current state of Washington’s economy and specifically calls attention to its high unemployment numbers compared to neighbors Oregon and Idaho. The argument of this piece is straightforward: Washington’s economy is lagging behind its peers in the Pacific Northwest and the United States, and the time has come to do something about it.

Rural areas of Washington are hurting. Cowlitz County, where The Daily News is based, along with Grays Harbor and Pacific County to name a few, have all posted unemployment rates nearly twice as high as neighboring states.

On this point, the editorial board wrote, “From a 19th District standpoint, Cowlitz and Pacific counties have the lowest unemployment rate in the district at 7.6 percent. Lewis County is worse off than either Cowlitz or Pacific County at 8.2 percent, while Wahkiakum County stands at 8.4 percent and Grays Harbor at 8.8 percent. These statistics are taken from the Washington State Employment Security Department website as of August 2016.”

In contrast, King County, home to the tech-heavy Puget Sound region, is, “in its own little world.”

The editorial also added that, “On the other hand, King County is doing well with an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent — it’s ranked first among all counties in the state. Pierce County (Tacoma) is not doing well at 6.5 percent unemployment and neither is Spokane County at 6.3 percent. The largest population centers are not all doing well, just Seattle and its surrounding areas.”

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and in order to keep Washington competitive, our leaders must look to improve the state as a whole. Rural parts of Washington are key to some of the state’s most important industries. Agriculture, for example, employs hundreds of thousands of local workers and is responsible for 13 percent of the state’s economic output.

Washington must look at the larger picture. Investments in rural economies like infrastructure projects can help lift families out of poverty and create good paying jobs to support children and generate tax revenue for schools. It’s time that state leaders look away from the spotlight in Puget Sound and address the communities that need their help the most.

Read the full piece here.