Gold first wove together the economies of Alaska and Puget Sound in the late 1800s. The discovery of oil, the buildup of military bases, the construction of a pipeline, the catching and processing of seafood all deepened that link as decades passed. Today, more than a century after the Klondike Gold Rush, changing 21st-century economies unite the 49th state and its southern trade partner, including tourism, healthcare, education, and retail trade.
This shift is illustrated in a report just released by the Chambers of Commerce for Tacoma and Seattle, titled “Ties That Bind: The Enduring Economic Impact of Alaska on the Puget Sound Region.” The report statistically examines evolving trends in the economic partnership between Alaska and six major counties in the Puget Sound area of Washington State: King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.
“Ties That Bind” updates economic data from 1985 and 1994 that examined the healthy interdependence of the Alaska-Puget Sound trade link.
The report highlights several interesting facts, including:
*The value of goods and services that Puget Sound provides to Alaskans has increased steadily over the decades.
*In 1994, more than 90,000 jobs based on $2.4 billion in Puget Sound exports were directly tied to trade with Alaska. In 2003, those numbers grew to approximately 103,500 jobs, tied to $3.8 billion in Puget Sound exports.
*Healthcare, professional services, and retail trade are now dominant sectors in the Alaskan economy. While 3.3 percent of Alaska employment was tied to fishing, farming and forestry in 2003, almost 30 percent was linked to services.
*Export of Puget Sound services to Alaska has also increased dramatically — almost 120 percent between 1994-2003. These services include specialized banking, accounting, legal, engineering, management, education, and medical services.
*Alaska visitors spend more than $500 million each year in visits to Puget Sound.
For more information, visit www.tacomachamber.org and follow the home page link to the full report.