How Have the Northwest Economies Fared Compared to the United State Economy?

How Have the Northwest Economies Fared Compared to the United State Economy?

Most of the media coverage regarding economics is at the national level. As the news has shown, the U.S. economy is not a homogenous economy as some sectors are currently struggling while other sectors are improving. This is also true from a state level as some states have performed better than the national economy and others have not done as well. If you are trying to understand how the Northwest economies are performing, using national data will not give an accurate picture. Today’s blog post provides some insight into the Northwest economies.

Since the U.S. economy is measured by spending (i.e. Gross Domestic Product) the simplest way to provide a comparison is to focus on jobs, income and then Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Jobs are what creates income and income is what creates spending power.


Location Year-Over-Year Growth
United States 1.9%
Idaho 3.1%
Oregon 2.8%
Washington 3.1%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics As of 9/30/15


As seen above, all states within the Northwest have had stronger jobs growth than the United States over the past twelve months but, the composition of jobs growth has been different between the each Northwest state and the United States (see table below).

 Location Fastest Year-Over-Year Jobs Growth 2nd Fastest Year-Over-Year Job Growth 3rd Fastest Year-Over-Year Jobs Growth
United States Construction (3.1%) Trade, Transportation & Utilities (3.1%) Leisure & Hospitality (2.9%)
Idaho Construction (7.5%) Manufacturing (4.1%) Trade Transportation & Utilities (3.8%)
Oregon Education & Health Care (3.9%) Professional & Business Services (3.9%) Manufacturing (3.7%)
Washington Construction (7.1%) Professional & Business Services (3.4%) Trade, Transportation & Utilities and Education & Healthcare (3.2%)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics As of 9/30/15


The table below shows that all three states within the Northwest saw stronger wage growth compared to the United States.

Location Year-Over-Year Growth
United States 2.2%
Idaho 2.6%
Oregon 3.8%
Washington 2.5%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics As of 9/30/15


Although we will not have final 2015 GDP information until next year, the jobs and wage growth through September 30th indicate that the Northwest economies should outperform the United States in 2015. This was the case in 2014 the table below illustrates.

Location GDP
United States 2.2%
Idaho 2.7%
Oregon 3.6%
Washington 3.0%
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis As of 12/31/14

About The Author

Steve Scranton is the Chief Investment Officer and Economist for Washington Trust Bank and is a CFA charter holder with over 30 years of investment experience with equities, tax-exempt and taxable fixed income securities. Steve actively participates on committees within the bank to help design strategies and policies related to client and bank owned investments. Steve also serves as the economist for the Bank and has been a featured speaker for both client and professional organization events throughout the Northwest.