While we’re still living and working through the pandemic, we are clearly recovering from the shutdown that hit businesses and families hard in 2020.
That’s not just a feeling. It’s in the numbers.
Washington in the Making has put together a set of economic indicators specifically to show progress toward local and the state economies’ recovery. These eight Recovery Vitals, created and maintained by the AWB Institute, offer an easy way to see whether we’re headed in the right direction.
In Kitsap County, we’re headed in the right direction. The Recovery Vitals include some long-term data, such as median household income and per-capita personal income. Those indicators are great for understanding progress and challenges over the long term. Other data shows more recent changes — so businesses and communities can make adjustments and focus their energy where it’s needed, and we can see what’s happened during the pandemic and since the shutdown.
Among the newer data:
- Taxable quarterly sales. In Q4 of 2020, according to newly available data, Kitsap County saw an 8.73% year-over-year increase here. That’s a good indication that our region was in solid shape, because consumption spending is the largest part of any economy.
- Net jobs created. Recently updated data shows that Kitsap performed better than the state average in Q3 of 2020. Our county saw a rate of minus 5.86% compared with minus 7.06% in Washington.
Another sign of our resilience: In a state with lower unemployment than the U.S. average, Kitsap County’s unemployment was even lower. We saw a rate of 4.8% in May, compared with 5% in Washington. That’s compared with 5.8% in the U.S. in the same month.
It was still higher than pre-pandemic unemployment (4.4% in January 2020). But Kitsap’s large government employers — the shipyard, public schools — kept people working through and after the shutdown. That contributed to our economy’s quick return to good health after unemployment spiked everywhere during the shutdown.
We encourage you to explore the Recovery Vitals. They’re part of a free, interactive resource that brings together more than 30 key economic indicators for every county or MSA in Washington. You also can compare one area’s stats with another’s or against the state average. The tool is part of Washington in the Making, a framework for the state’s economic recovery.
Maybe you’re a business owner ready to make your next move — but you’re not sure our local economy is ready for you. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur looking for a welcoming community that’s as resilient as you are. Check out our numbers, and make your move.
Building back our businesses and economy will continue to be part art and part science. The more we can use reliable, relevant data to focus all those efforts, the better.
A free, interactive tool from AWB Institute brings together 30-plus key economic indicators — the “Vitals” — on an easy-to-use website. Designed for employers, business groups and other leaders, it makes it easy to find and track relevant, updated economic data on the county and MSA levels and statewide. You also can compare one area’s stats with another’s or against the state average.
The tool is designed to help communities track their progress toward six statewide areas of focus: recovery, talent, business environment, infrastructure and connectivity, entrepreneurship and innovation, and place and community. It’s part of Washington in the Making, a framework for the state’s economic recovery that envisions lasting prosperity in every community. It was developed by AWBI, which advocates for policy and programs for members of the Association for Washington Business.
As the Vitals show us, each county has its own strengths and challenges — opportunities to build on success and to make concerted efforts to improve. In the coming months, our chamber will be watching a half-dozen indicators important to Kitsap County’s economy. Combined, they show that this is a great place to do business.
• Taxable quarterly retail sales.
• Unemployment rate.
• Broadband access.
• Net jobs created.
• Median household income.
• Median home value.
Kitsap County’s taxable quarterly retail sales figures, for example, are strong — reflecting strong total economic activity. But it’s also a chance for us as a business community to amplify calls to steer that spending to local businesses, finding ways to encourage residents to shop local. And it’s useful for local businesses to know that consumers are ready and able to spend — and to keep taking advantage of tech opportunities, like online sales and curbside pickup, that customers have grown to love during the pandemic.
Also of interest: Our county’s median home value was $438,300 in Q4 of 2020.
Although we know the median is lower in South Kitsap, that figure represents a new high. Yet the comparison tool quickly shows us it’s lower than the state median and nearly all our neighboring counties’ home prices.
We encourage you to explore the Vitals on your own. It can be eye-opening for business owners and others interested in putting the numbers behind what we already know — Kitsap a great place to live and do business.