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Snohomish County Profile

Overview | Geographic facts | Outlook | Labor force and unemployment |
Industry employment | Wages and Income | Population


Regional context

Snohomish County is situated between northern Puget Sound to the west and the crest line of the North Cascade Range to the east. It shares its northern border with rural Skagit County and borders King County to the south. Snohomish County is separated from Camano Island (part of Island County) by Davis Slough. The highest point in Snohomish County is Granite Peak (10,541 feet).

Due to its proximity to and shared labor market with King County, Snohomish County is incorporated into the Seattle - Bellevue - Everett Metropolitan Division and the Seattle - Tacoma - Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area, as designated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The geographic distribution of population, economic activity and land use in Snohomish County is diverse, with a mix of rural and urban zones. For the most part, population centers in the county are oriented south in proximity to the border with King County and west along Interstate 5. By contrast, north and east Snohomish County are characterized by smaller cities, farms and reservations.

The county ranks 13th statewide in terms of total land area (2,087.3 square miles) and is the 7th most densely populated county in Washington, with 362.96 people per square mile in 2015.

Local economy

Snohomish County has been and continues to be home to a number of Native American tribes. Early economic history of the county is characterized by an abundance of natural resources in a diverse ecological region.

European settlement of Puget Sound, including what is now Snohomish County, followed Captain George Vancouver’s claim of much of western Washington for Great Britain in 1792. Snohomish County was carved out of Island County in 1861 and the late 19th century saw the establishment of several settlements in western Snohomish County. The Great Northern Railway reached the newly-established city of Everett, bringing an economic boom to the area. Snohomish County’s early industrial economy thus continued to be based on the availability of abundant natural resources - primarily timber and farming.

Following World War II, Snohomish County’s economic growth expanded through the establishment of suburban cities oriented toward Seattle in the southwestern part of the county.

Home-grown multinational corporation, Boeing, traces its roots to the Seattle metropolitan area and continues to play a prominent role in Snohomish County’s economic make up. In the late 1960s, Boeing established its 747 manufacturing plant at Paine Field near Everett. The later development of other high technology industries in Snohomish County brought population increases and a shift from an economy based on logging and agriculture to one rooted in manufacturing and an expanding service sector.

Manufacturing continues to be a major economic driver in Snohomish County. Just over 63,000 jobs (23.1 percent of total Snohomish County nonfarm employment) in 2014 were in manufacturing industries. This is proportionally higher than any other county in Washington and above the national average. The manufacturing base, coupled with proximity to a major urban center, provides the foundation for a diverse local economy.

Other major industry sectors employing more than 15,000 included government (38,200), retail trade (33,300), educational and health services (32,900), leisure and hospitality (24,100), professional and business services (23,700) and construction (17,500).

Snohomish County began to feel the effects of the recent recession in mid-2008. The lowest employment levels were recorded in 2010 - well after the recession had been declared over. Since 2010, all private-sector industry groups have seen overall increases in employment and the local unemployment rate has been dropping.


Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Snohomish County Rank in state
Land area, 2010 (square miles) 2,087.3 13
Persons per square mile, 2015 362.96 7



Snohomish County experienced relative job losses that exceeded that of the state or the nation in 2009 and 2010. It has also experienced above average job creation by comparison during the early phase of the economic recovery. All private sector industry groups have reported net employment growth since the recession (with recovery starting in 2010 for most industries). Generally speaking, growth was highest at the start of the recovery. Total nonfarm employment expanded by 3.2 percent from 2010 to 2011 and by another 4.1 percent in 2012. By comparison, the past couple years’ employment growth rates have been more modest: 1.2 percent in 2013 and 1.6 percent in 2014. Since 2010, the unemployment rate has also been declining steadily. In July 2015, the preliminary not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate reported for Snohomish County was 4.3 percent.

The primary driver of Snohomish County’s early recovery was the manufacturing sector, specifically the aerospace products and parts manufacturing industry. Employment in aerospace expanded rapidly in 2010 and 2011, peaked in late 2012 and declined through 2013 and into 2014. Over the past couple years, manufacturing employment has slowed, changing the industrial signature of the local recovery. Despite the declining net number of manufacturing jobs, Boeing has been ramping up production schedules. Manufacturers continue to hire, as they face challenges associated with an aging workforce. It is worth noting that, despite recent declines, jobs in manufacturing accounted for 23 percent of total nonfarm employment—a higher percentage than had been observed prior to the recession.

The tail end of the recovery period has been characterized by expansion in all major industry groups except manufacturing. From 2013 to 2014, Snohomish County employers added 4,300 jobs or 1.6 percent. On a percentage basis, the highest year-over-year growth came from construction (8.4 percent). Moving forward, expect to see a broad-based recovery that continues to add jobs, albeit at a slower pace than had been observed in 2011 and 2012.


Labor force and unemployment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

Current labor force and unemployment statistics are available on the Labor area summaries page.

Snohomish County’s 2014 labor force averaged 395,317, with an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent. Within this estimate, 374,985 county residents were counted among the employed and 20,332 were counted among the unemployed.

During the recent period of recession and recovery, peak unemployment rates were reached in early 2010, when rates reached 11.2 percent. The average unemployment rate for 2010 was 10.7 percent. Since 2010, the unemployment rate has been on a consistent downward trend. In July 2015, the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent.

From 2005 to 2010, the Snohomish County labor force expanded by an average of 2.3 percent per year. In 2011, the labor force contracted by nearly more than 2,000 workers but had recovered by 2013.


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

Current industry employment statistics are available on the Labor area summaries page.

Although the recession technically ended in June 2009, the employment situation did not begin to turn around until well into the recovery period. The lowest employment levels during this period were reached in 2010. Some industries that were particularly hard hit include construction and financial activities.

Snohomish County averaged 273,300 nonfarm jobs in 2014, up from an estimated 269,000 in 2013. Over the year, total employment increased an average 1.6 percent. Washington state as a whole experienced the addition of 77,600 jobs over the same time period, an increase of 2.6 percent.

  • Goods-producing industries supported an average of 80,600 jobs in 2014, up from 80,500 in 2013.
    • Snohomish County goods-producing industries generally fall within two industries: manufacturing and construction. Manufacturing dipped and recovered employment quickly (relative to other sectors), however industry employment growth has slowed later into the recovery.
    • Construction suffered the greatest job losses in the county, but has grown every year since 2011. Expect the surge of hiring to continue over the next couple years.
  • Service-providing industries supported an average of 192,700 jobs in 2014, up from 188,400 in 2013.
    • The service sector includes a broad range of industries, each responding differently to economic conditions. The greatest proportional service sector industry losses came from the financial activities sector and the greatest absolute losses came from retail. Educational and health services continued to grow over the course of the recession and recovery period.
    • At the broad industry level, all private sector service providing industries have reached employment levels that exceed their respective pre-recession peaks.
  • Government employment averaged 38,200 jobs in 2014. This is up from an estimated 37,500 in 2013.

For historical industry employment data, contact an economist.

Industry employment by age and gender

(Source: The Local Employment Dynamics)

The Local Employment Dynamics (LED) database, a joint project of state employment departments and the U.S. Census Bureau, matches state employment data with federal administrative data. Among the products is industry employment by age and gender. All workers covered by state unemployment insurance data are included; federal workers and non-covered workers, such as the self-employed, are not. Data is presented by place of work, not place of residence. Some highlights:

In 2014, Snohomish County’s labor market was slightly older than that of the state. While the statewide workforce had proportionally more workers age 25 to 44, Snohomish County’s workforce was proportionally more represented among workers age 45 to 64.

In 2014, 53.5 percent of all jobs were held by men, while 46.5 percent were held by women.

  • Industries with male-dominant workforces included mining (84.3 percent), construction (79.8 percent), transportation and warehousing (74.8 percent) and manufacturing (74.3 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included healthcare and social assistance (78.0 percent), educational services (73.2 percent) and finance and insurance (66.2 percent).

Wages and income

(Source: Employment Security Department; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Bureau of Economic Analysis; U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey)

In 2014, Snohomish County averaged 267,792 jobs covered by unemployment insurance, with a total payroll of $14.8 billion.

The average annual wage in Snohomish County was $55,414 for all industries in 2014.

The median hourly wage was $25.03 in 2013, compared to a statewide median wage of $22.09 per hour.

Personal income

Personal income includes earned income, investment income and government payments such as Social Security and Veterans Benefits. Investment income includes income imputed from pension funds and from owning a home. Per capita personal income equals total personal income divided by the resident population.

In 2013, the per capita personal income in Snohomish County was $46,733, less than the state ($47,717) and greater than the national average ($44,765). Statewide, Snohomish County ranked fourth in the state in terms of per capita income.

According to the American Community Survey, the median household income was $67,394 in 2013. Snohomish County’s median was higher than both the state ($58,405) and the nation ($52,250).

In 2013, 11.3 percent of the resident population in Snohomish County was estimated to be living below the poverty level. Statewide and national poverty levels were higher (14.1 percent and 15.8 percent respectively).

Childhood poverty levels tend to exceed all ages’ averages. In Snohomish County, 15.6 percent of all children under age 18 were reported as living below the poverty level in 2013.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

With an estimated 757,660 residents for 2015, Snohomish County has the third highest county population in Washington. Only King and Pierce counties have higher resident populations.

Over the past couple decades, Snohomish County’s population growth rate has exceeded those of the state and the nation and this trend is projected to continue.

Migration trends tend to be linked closely with economic cycles. During the recent recession and recovery period, Snohomish County’s usual migration-related increase fell below the relatively constant rate of natural increase. In fact, between 2010 and 2011, Snohomish County saw net out-migration not seen since the early 1970s. Since 2011, the Snohomish County population has continued to increase. From 2014 to 2015, the total net population increase was 16,600 and the net increase from migration was 12,053.

The largest city in Snohomish County is Everett (105,800 residents in 2015). Other large cities include Marysville, Edmonds and Lynnwood.

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Snohomish County Washington state
Population 2015 757,600 7,061,410
Population 2005 661,346 6,298,822
Percent change, 2005 to 2015 14.6% 12.1%

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

The age distribution of Snohomish County residents compared to the state as a whole reveals the suburban and industrial nature of the county. It suggests that people move to Snohomish County to work and raise their families.

Snohomish County has a slightly larger proportion of young people under age 18 than the state and a lower proportion of youth between ages 20 and 24. The population between age 30 and 60 proportionally exceeds that of the state and the population aged 60 and above is under-represented in Snohomish County. The population distribution by age is expected to smooth over time, as the baby boom generation ages.

The racial and ethnic makeup of Snohomish County shows a relative under-representation of Black (3.1 percent) and Hispanic residents (9.7 percent) compared to the state and a higher representation of Asian residents (10.7 percent).


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Snohomish County Washington state
Population by age, 2014    
Under 5 years old 6.2% 6.3%
Under 18 years old 23.2% 22.7%
65 years and older 12.1% 14.1%
Females, 2014 49.7% 50.0%
Race/ethnicity, 2014
White 80.2% 80.7%
Black 3.1% 4.1%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 1.6% 1.9%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 10.7% 8.9%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 9.7% 12.2%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

During the period 2010 - 2014, when compared to Washington state and the U.S. as a whole, Snohomish County residents age 25 and above are more likely to have graduated from high school; 91.3 percent had a high school degree.

There were proportionally fewer Snohomish County residents with four-year college degrees than statewide. Nearly 29.3 percent of Snohomish County residents age 25 and up had completed bachelor degrees or higher, compared to nearly 32.3 percent for the state. Snohomish County residents were more likely to have attended some colleges or to have earned their associate’s degree compared to the state and the nation.