Tech industry, population growth boost Seattle and Tacoma economies

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Revenue growth for Seattle and Tacoma is outpacing the nation, according to Fitch Ratings.

The entire Puget Sound region is benefiting from population growth, a strong post-recession economic bounce back and an increasingly diverse economy, said Alan Gibson, a Fitch director.

“While heavy manufacturing is still important, the Puget Sound region’s ongoing diversification into information technology has been a big driver of growth, particularly for Seattle,” Gibson said.

The rating agency released a report on the region, titled "Diverse Economy Buoys Puget Sound Local Governments," on Thursday.

The city of Tacoma has had a tougher time transitioning away from heavy industry, but also has seen gains resulting from a more diverse economy and a competitively priced housing market, Gibson said.

Fitch cited Seattle’s strong commercial sector and Tacoma’s post-recession revenue-raising measures in addition to economic diversity as to why the region has outpaced the nation economically.

Overall debt and retiree benefits will remain low to moderate relative to local economic resource bases, according to Fitch’s report.

“This coupled with exceptionally strong gap-closing capacity and solid budget flexibility means ample reserve safety margins that King County, Seattle, and Tacoma can sustain throughout economic cycles,” Gibson said.

King County, which includes Seattle, accounts for 29% of the state’s population. Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft are the region’s largest employers.

As a result of its economic strengths, Fitch-rated Puget Sound local government ratings, which range from AAA to AA and boast stable outlooks, are likely to remain strong over the next couple of years, Gibson said.

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