JULY 2012
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To all of you who contribute to Seattle's vibrant economy:


Welcome to the July edition of The Indicator. This month features an insightful analysis of the local food industry - an often complex niche of the Seattle economy - written by our guest columnist Chris Mefford. With such an eclectic blend of locally grown products, it is no surprise Mefford concludes that food often defines our community identity. Appetites aside, Seattle By the Numbers demonstrates an optimistic revival for the U.S. economy while The Daily Dozen continues to reflect what you all care about most.  


Please enjoy, and as usual, let us know what you think.


Steve Johnson, Director


With guest columnist Chris Mefford 

This month in the Economic Spotlight, Chris Mefford breaks down...  



As the smoke from fireworks clears we are finally allowed to expect summer and celebrate a new season of local food bounty. The economy's relationships with food are as varied and complex as choosing which type of little potatoes to try from the farmers' market. Economists have long tracked agriculture production and food exports. Our local food-related employers are well prized, and economists are paying more attention to the growing specialty foods industry. Dining out is a significant part of the local entertainment industry, and playing catch with salmon helps to reel in tourists all summer long.


The interest in locally grown and produced food is notable, but, we seem unable to decide whether to call this a niche, a trend, or something more significant. Other connections between food and the economy too often get relegated as indirect or externalities, such as the connection between citizens' health and local economies; food safety and security; environmental consequences of food choice; and cultural significance of our food.


Here are few local economic measures of food to whet your appetite:

  • Statewide food and drink related agriculture exports totaled $14.7 billion in 2011, and Washington imported $2.4 billion in food products in 2011.
  • Locally, the Seattle metro area employs at least 136,400 jobs in food production, food sales and dining establishments.

-Food production jobs total 12,300 in the Seattle area alone

-27,500 jobs are at food and beverage stores

-96,600 jobs are at restaurants and businesses devoted to food service (May 2012)[i] 

  • Gross revenues at King County restaurants, dining services, bars and taverns totaled an estimated $5.6 billion in 2011.[ii]
  • In addition to dining out, King County residents spend an estimated $4.8 billion each year on groceries and food to eat at home (2011).[iii] 

Beyond an important employment industry, good food is also a necessary input for a community's production function. Public health leaders help us understand the connection between access to healthy food, community health and productivity. Food deserts (urban areas with little access to healthy food) along with ever present access to cheap and unhealthy food contribute to a lack of structural wellness in lower income communities. Access to better food would increase health and productivity for families in these underserved areas.


Locally produced foods contribute to our community identity. Food defines how we live together and how people from other regions perceive us, just as their regional foods define them. For the Pacific Northwest, people see us and we see each other for our salmon and other seafood, apples, cherries, wine, coffee houses, microbrews and many other culinary treasures.


Eat well and appreciate how important food is to our economy and quality of life. Choose your food consciously, and try the Purple Majesties.

Seattle By The Numbers is a great way for our readers to stay current on economic and business news through various numerical data. The figures can be national unemployment rates, various economic indicators, Seattle rankings, and data from different industry reports. Check out our favorite stats from June:




For more statistics, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics summary of the Seattle metropolitan area or the Seattle Times' Times Watch indicators.

Want to know what your fellow Daily Digest subscribers are reading? Here are the twelve most clicked-on articles of June:

  1. 25 things Seattle gave the world 
  2. 100 best companies to work for 2012 
  3. 10 companies looking to hire a lot of people 
  4. 14 creative ways to stay focused and productive 
  5. 'Micro-housing' trends rolls on in Capitol Hill 
  6. 10 states that will boom: Washington No. 6 
  7. Top 100 Seattle startups 
  8. Watch the Intuit "Golfing in Downtown Seattle" commercial online 
  9. 32 innovations that will change your tomorrow 
  10. Seattle area economy rated third in U.S. 
  11. Microsoft starting median pay beats out rivals 
  12. Facebook marketing tools you might not know about 

Film + Music + Interactive Happy Hour returns Wednesday, June 25, from 5 - 7 pm at Spitfire in Belltown. The monthly happy hour is a meet up for leaders in film, music, and interactive industries to share, learn, and make meaningful business connections. In addition to bringing people together, each month features a special 30-minute presentation from guest speakers who give unique insight into the creative and technological innovations directly affecting the industry. The event is free and does not require any registration or RSVP, but you must be 21+ to attend. 

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