The Washington Region’s Economy in 2017 and Outlook for 2018 and Beyond
The Washington region’s economy outperformed its beginning-of-the-year forecast in 2017 growing at an estimated 2.1 percent and improving significantly on its 1.1 percent gain in 2016. While still not outperforming the national economy (GDP), the region’s economy has recovered sufficiently to closely mirror the current and projected near-term performance of the U.S. economy.
In spite of the uncertainty introduced into the region’s economic equation by the new Administration, the actual negative impacts of the Trump Administration have been difficult to measure beyond the modest loss of federal jobs during the second half of 2017. The new Administration’s positive impacts (indirect) have included accelerated job growth in the region’s business and leisure travel and advocacy clusters and a stronger national economy that has bolstered the regional economy with rising consumer confidence, increased personal income, growth of corporate income and increased foreign trade.
The outlook for the Washington region’s economy in 2018 is for accelerating economic growth (2.3%). The burden that the Washington region’s economy is carrying in 2018 and beyond is the likelihood of flat or declining federal spending. If this proves to be the case, then the region’s economic growth will fully depend on the growth of its non-federally dependent export-based sectors and local-serving sectors that also serve non-local markets.