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GDP by county released for first time

December 18, 2018

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released county-specific statistics for gross domestic product.

GDP is the total market value of goods and services produced in the country in a year and is used to measure economic performance and growth, according to the bureau.

According to the bureau’s December report, which looks at 2012 to 2015, GDP from Skagit County increased by 12 percent from 2014 to 2015 and was ranked third in the state in 2015.

Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County CEO John Sternlicht said the data is useful in informing economic development decisions.

The bulk of that increase came from the private goods-producing sector, which includes industries such as manufacturing and construction, according to the report.

That sector’s GDP increased by about 30 percent from 2014 to 2015, after decreasing by about 2 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Sternlicht attributed much of that gain to the refineries.

A reinvestment in industry following the recession can partially explain the sharp uptick in 2014, Sternlicht said.

The private services-providing sector, which includes everything from information technology services to landscaping, increased by about 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the report.

The government sector increased about 1 percent from 2014 to 2015.

The GDP data “addresses one of the last remaining gaps in economic knowledge, offering policymakers and businesses a new tool to inform their decision-making,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a bureau news release.

Although the data doesn’t include recent years, Sternlicht said it shows which types of companies are grouping together in Skagit County.

That helps EDASC know which industries it should invest in attracting.

“It’s very useful for workforce planning purposes,” Sternlicht said. “It also projects where the needs will be for education and training.”

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