Quarterly Report: Construction activity drives Tacoma economy

Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday morning to receive an update on the City of Tacoma’s Economic Indicators Summary, a quarterly report that provides data on economic trends in the community and the City of Tacoma’s efforts to support economic development.

According to a March 5 memo prepared by City of Tacoma Community and Economic Development Department Director Ricardo Noguera, the local economy improved slightly when comparing the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2012.

More specifically:

  • The number of residential building permits rose 52 per cent, while their value grew by 110.5 per cent, according to the report, while the number and value of commercial building permits dropped 11.8 per cent and 60.4 per cent, respectively. The most significant permits issued during the fourth quarter of 2013 were related to the installation of seven fuel storage tanks for Targa Sound Terminal’s Phase II expansion, construction of Catholic Community Services’ four-story, 80-unit Nativity House, and Tacoma Art Museum’s expansion project;
  • The unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 per cent to 7.3 per cent. Transportation/utilities, education and health services, professional and business services, and trade were the biggest areas of employment growth. The 46,300 jobs related to education and health services remained the largest employment cluster in Tacoma, and added 900 jobs, or two per cent, since the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the report. Professional and business services, with its 23,900 employees, grew by 700 positions, or three per cent, year over year. Collectively, warehouse/distribution, financial activities, and information technology added 400 jobs since the fourth quarter of 2012;
  • The City of Tacoma issued 60 new business licenses in the fourth quarter of 2013, which represents an 18.2 per cent increase when compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. This is attributable to construction activity, according to the report. The total number of business licenses grew by 747, or 3.2 per cent. Nine Small Business Enterprise (SBE) firms received contracts in the fourth quarter of 2012, as compared to 13 in the fourth quarter of 2013. The average size of contracts increased from $76,600 to $84,600. In the fourth quarter of 2013, a stormwater main replacement project at East 15th Street and St. Paul Avenue, as well as the landscaping portion of storm and sanitary sewer upgrades in Tacoma’s North End were the largest SBE projects.

Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee is scheduled to discuss the report during a meeting on Tues., March 11, at 10 a.m. at Tacoma City Hall, 747 Market St., Conference Room 248, in downtown Tacoma. Copies of the agenda and the Economic Indicators Summary are available online here.