Washington Economy Watch provides local business and government leaders with a consistent analysis of Greater Washington’s regional economy to ensure they are equipped with the information needed to make informed decisions regarding the future development of the region’s economy.


Washington Economy Watch

Following the onset of a recession in July of 1990, a region-specific early warning analytical framework was developed to ensure public and private sectors leaders could better anticipate changes in the direction of the local economy. The Washington Economic Index has been calculated each month since February 1991 and reflects an underlying data base that dates back to 1978.

The Washington Economic Index is the only metropolitan–level Index (consisting of Leading and Coincident Indices).

The Washington Leading Index forecasts the performance of the metropolitan area economy six to eight months in advance based on a combination of regional indicators, including unemployment, consumer expectations, retail spending, and residential building permits.

The Washington Coincident Index represents the current state of the metropolitan area economy based on a combination of regional indicators, including wage and salary employment, consumer confidence, retail sales, and domestic passenger volume.

Each month, The Stephen S. Fuller Institute will report on the status of these key indicators to ensure regional leaders have the most up-to-date information in regards to the current and near-term performance of the Washington region’s economy.

Understanding Business Cycles and The Washington Economic Index ›


Current Report

 Washington Economy Watch
Vol. V, No. 4 – 2Q 2021
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The Region’s Recovery Resumed in Feb. 2021 & Continued through May 2021
The Washington region’s economic recovery resumed in February 2021 after faltering due to the second wave of COVID-19. The Coincident Index had strong increases between February 2021 and May 2021, reaching 97.1 percent of its pre-pandemic level from May 2019. The gains in recent months have been uneven and not all components were equally recovered in May 2019, with non-durable goods sales being completely recovered while domestic air passenger volume significantly lagged the overall recovery. The Leading Index also strengthened during the spring of 2021 and three of its four components reached pre-pandemic levels during at least one month of 2021: durable goods retail sales, total residential building permits, and consumer expectations. The fourth component, initial claims for unemployment insurance, remained elevated and had not yet neared pre-pandemic levels as of May 2021. In combination with recent patterns in the labor force and wage and salary employment, this suggests that labor force availability may be increasingly important for the rate of the economic recovery in upcoming months.


More Reports

Washington Index (monthly, 1997 to present)
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Archived Washington Economy Watch Reports (as PDFs)
Washington Economy Watch Vol. V, No. 3 – March 2021
Washington Economy Watch Vol. V, No. 2 – February 2021
Washington Economy Watch Vol. V, No. 1 – January 2021
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 10 – Nov/Dec 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 9 – Sep/Oct 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 8 – August 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 7 – July 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 6 – June 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 5 – May 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 4 – April 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 3 – March 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 2 – February 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 1 – January 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 11 – November 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. IV, No. 1 – January 2020
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 11 – November 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 10 – October 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 8 – August 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 9 – September 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 8 – August 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 7 – July 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 6 – June 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 5 – May 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 4 – April 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 3 – March 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 2 – February 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. III, No. 1 – January 2019
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 11 – November 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 10 – October 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 9 – September 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 8 – August 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 7 – July 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 6 – June 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 5 – May 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 4 – April 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 3 – March 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 2 – February 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. II, No. 1 – January 2018
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 11 – November 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 10 – October 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 9 – September 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 8 – August 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 7 – July 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 6 – June 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 5 – May 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 4 – April 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 3 – March 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 2 – February 2017
Washington Economy Watch Vol. I, No. 1 – January 2017