Economic Basics

King County Economy

Population | Educational Attainment | Income & Cost of Living
Industries & Trade | Largest Employers in King County | Top Companies Headquartered in King County | Seattle-King County Companies on Fortune 500 | Top Trading Partners


King County, Washington is located in the northwest corner of the United States in the heart of the Puget Sound region. The region is the thirteenth largest metropolitan area in the country. King County is home to nearly 2.1 million people, living in 39 cities and unincorporated areas. King County has a varied topography from sea level to 6,270 feet. To the west is the Puget Sound and to the east are the Cascade Mountains. The City of Seattle is the King County seat and the Northwest’s largest city. Seattle is 100 miles south of the Canadian border and 165 miles north of the Oregon border.

total-households-in-king-county.pngKing County had an estimated 872,411 households in 2016. This number is forecasted to increase to more than 912,000 by the year 2021. The county currently has 18 cities with populations greater than 20,000.



Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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Educational Attainment

percent-bachelors-degree-or-higher.pngWelcome to Seattle, one of the most educated cities in the United States. Over 57% of Seattle’s adult residents have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, nearly twice the national average. An educated city means an educated workforce—a solid backbone for the innovative, knowledge-based industries that drive Seattle’s economy. Eleven colleges and universities call King County home, including University of Washington, home of the nation’s top medical school and recipient of more federal research funds than any other public university in the United States. King County also boasts high educational attainment, with 47% of residents over 25 having received a Bachelor's degree or higher.

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Income & Cost of Living



Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Roughly 28% of King County residents are in professional business/managerial positions. As a result, median household income in King County is well above the U.S. average. Cost of living is generally higher than the U.S. average, but it is in line with other metropolitan areas with similar income levels.


Source: ACCRA

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Industries & Trade

pnw-port-us-eports.pngApproximately 8.7% of Washington State’s private sector jobs are linked to export manufacturing. Foreign investment accounts for another 3.7% of the state’s private-industry employment with foreign-controlled businesses employing over 91,000 Washington workers.

Seattle is the closest seaport in the United States to both Asia and Alaska. Its location makes the city a prime gateway for shipping, cruise passengers and tourists. In addition to Asia, many other countries are found among the list of Seattle’s top twenty trade partners. A recent study by the Brookings Institution ranks the Seattle metropolitan region 10th among the 100 largest US metropolitan areas with $24.16 billion in total exports produced for 2008.

The value of the state’s exported merchandise totaled approximately $53.4 billion in 2010, 19% of which went to the state’s largest market, China. Eighty-one percent of Washington’s exports come from the Seattle metro area (Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue).

About 70% of the port’s containerized cargo originates in or destined for regions or country outside the Pacific Northwest. Thus, while the state represents 2% of the nation’s population, its ports handle 7% of all U.S. exports and receive a 6% share of the nation’s imports.

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Largest Employers in King County

Employer Name # of Full-Time Employees in WA
The Boeing Co. 81,919
Microsoft Corp. 43,031
University of Washington 30,200 Inc. 24,700
King County Government 13,400
Starbucks Corp. 11,239
Swedish Health Services 10,758
City of Seattle 10,080
Costco Wholesale Corp. 9,264
Nordstrom 8,982
Group Health Cooperative 7,271

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Top Companies Headquartered in King County

Company Name
Alaska Airlines**
Costco Wholesale*
Expeditors International of Washington*
*Fortune 500 company

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Seattle-King County Companies on Fortune 500


Company Rank City Net Income
(in millions)
Costco Wholesale 15 Issaquah 116,199 18 Seattle 107,006
Microsoft 25 Redmond 93,580
Starbucks 146 Seattle 19,163
Paccar 147 Bellevue 19,115
Nordstrom 197 Seattle 14,437
Weyerhaeuser 373 Federal Way 7,082
Expedia 385 Bellevue 6,672
Expeditors International of Washington 390 Seattle 6,617
Alaska Airlines 459 Seattle 5,598

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Top Trading Partners


Country $ in billions
China 19.4
Canada 8
Japan 5.9
South Korea 4.2
U.A.E. 3.2

Source: Foreign Trade Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015

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Why Seattle-King County?

....It's Home of Big Ideas!

Why Seattle-King County?

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The EDC provides confidential consulting services, free-of-charge, to businesses seeking to establish operations, expand, or relocate within King County.

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