Employment & Economy in Kitsap County
Sitting in central Puget Sound, Kitsap County offers all the benefits of the Seattle/Tacoma market without the gridlock and high prices. After a decline in the job market and a downturn in the local economy from 2006 to 2012, Kitsap County is showing numbers that have rebounded and continue to climb. According to the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, the county ranks high in essential economic development indicators: educational attainment and skilled workforce; development of intellectual property; per capita economic output; and, median household incomes.
Kitsap County is home to more than one-third of the region’s defense workforce, and with a high concentration of skilled engineers and technicians experienced in defense, the county is a desirable location for many large, multi-national defense firms, according to Kitsap Economic Development Alliance’s Snapshot of Kitsap Military & Defense Economy. Companies operating in Kitsap County include General Dynamics, BAE, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
The median age in the county is about 39 years old. Median household income in Kitsap County is $65,017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There is no state income tax in Washington, so the state relies heavily on its 6.5 percent sales tax, one of the highest in the nation.
Travel by Land, Sea and Air
Kitsap County — with its relatively easy access from waterways, major interstates and a massive commercial airport nearby — is positioned for robust business growth and innovation.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the primary airport serving the region; it offers commercial passenger and cargo service worldwide and is about 45 miles southeast of Naval Base Kitsap. The naval base is 40 miles west of Seattle and 45 miles northwest of Tacoma. Nearby Seattle is the western terminus of Interstate 90, the major east/west freeway for the northern U.S. that connects to Boston. The Washington State Ferry System is an extension of the state highway system and is the largest of its kind in the world. It transports thousands of workers from residential communities across the water daily.
The region has multiple deep-water port facilities offering service to destinations worldwide. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma have numerous scheduled liner services. The Port of Tacoma is the sixth-busiest container port in North America and one of the 25 busiest in the world, and it plays an important part in the local economy. This deep-water port covers 2,400 acres and offers a combination of facilities and services including 34 deep-water berths, 2 million square feet of warehouse and office space, and 131 acres of industrial yard.
The development of Seattle and Washington is rooted in the logging industry. California’s 1850 gold rush created a demand for lumber and spurred migration to the region. By the 1860s, timber was big business, and Kitsap County was the richest county per capita in the United States with five large sawmills in production. Puget Sound’s busy ports shipped timber and lumber all over the world.
Today, economic activity in the county includes a gaming industry with large casinos on tribal properties, a major medical center and a regional retail hub.
Naval Base Kitsap
Naval Base Kitsap employs more than 33,000 military and civilian personnel in addition to defense contractor operations, making it the largest employer in the county. Naval Base Kitsap and is estimated to have an annual economic impact of $6.1 billion, according to its latest economic impact statement.