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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

March 11, 2013 at 10:23 AM

More growth seen for Seattle

More benchmarking of Seattle, this time from the most recent U.S. Metro Economies report prepared for the United States Conference of Mayors by Global Insight. Seattle posted the 15th highest gain in real gross domestic product in 2011, at 2.6 percent. No. 1 was Silicon Valley at 7.5 percent and — perhaps surprisingly, given Oregon’s woes — Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro at 5.5 percent. We were the sixth top exporter behind New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Detroit(!) and Miami. Exports comprise more than 14 percent of Seattle’s gross metropolitan product.

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellvue ranked No. 14 in population growth projected over the next 30 years, at 39 percent. This is a double-edged indicator. More people can add heft to the workforce and tax base, provided jobs are available. If they are the highly educated, highly skilled cohort Seattle tends to attract, it’s even better. But more people also bring costs, including in infrastructure. Huge population gains have arguably been a net loser for Phoenix, which is projected to grow by 88 percent over the same time period. I am dubious of that as the combination of local warming and environmental degradation is mixed in with the growing consequences of climate change.

Taking a closer look at gross metropolitan product, Seattle ranked 12th, ahead of its population size, at $242 billion. That compared with $227 billion in 2008 and a dip to $225 billion in 2009. Portland ranked No. 20 at $139 billion (but weird, no doubt).

If Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue were a separate country — and many legislators in Olympia apparently believe this to be so — it would have the world’s 53rd largest economy, just behind Israel and ahead of Portugal and Chile. This points to the importance of metros as the competitive forces in today’s world. They hold  83.7 percent of the America’s population, 85.8 percent of its jobs and 90.7 percent of its real GDP. As the report states:

Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 37 of them belong to metropolitan areas of the United States. Our 20 largest-producing metros individually gross more than the individual economies of Vietnam, Morocco, Bangladesh, Slovakia, or Croatia, and united have a greater total product than 148 countries combined. The total GMP of our metro economies ($13 trillion) is equal to 24% of production of the largest 200 countries (excluding the US), and is greater than the combined product of 178 of those countries.

In Washington, metro areas make up 94 percent of gross state product. When states and metros are combined and compared, Seattle ranks No. 35 and Washington No. 20. Oregon ranks 39 and Portland (whose metro crosses the state line) 50. Want more fun facts? You can download the entire report here.

And Don’t Miss: Why there’s a bull market for stocks and a bear market for workers | Robert Reich/Guernica

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Paris and D.C.

Protected their famous spires

Our Needle gets stuck

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