Paine Field Economic Benefit

23 Aug 2021

Commercial air service began at Paine Field (PAE) in Everett this month. The two-gate airport will have 24 flights a day and a projected 656,000 passenger boardings in 2019.[1] For reference, Sea-Tac had 22.6 million enplanements in 2017 and Atlanta (busiest in the U.S.) had 50.2 million. Paine Field will have a similar number of boardings as the airports in Bozeman, Akron, and Hilo, Hawaii.[2] Despite its smaller size, PAE will be the 3rd busiest in Washington and give North Puget Sound residents a much closer airport than Sea-Tac. In doing so, Paine Field will relieve pressure at Sea-Tac and decrease the surface traffic associated with travelling to and from that airport.

In addition to convenience, Paine Field has potential for real economic benefit to Snohomish County. Everett is now one flight away from every major business hub in the Western United States, including Las Vegas, L.A., Phoenix, Denver, and the Bay Area. The lack of airport access has made attracting outside business investment to the county more difficult in the past.[3] Of the cities with direct flights to Paine, nearly all have advanced manufacturing and technology industries like Snohomish County. Examples include aerospace in Denver, high-tech manufacturing in San Jose and Portland, military suppliers in San Diego, and the healthcare and biotech industry in Phoenix. Snohomish County’s experienced workforce in these areas will be an asset in attracting business to the region. Economic benefits will take 3-5 years to materialize, according to Councilman Terry Ryan.[4]

Latest Key Economic Indicators

The number of jobs in Snohomish County continue to rise compared with last year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 418,917 employed in January 2019 (latest available data). This represents 2.7% growth from last January. Wages from Q2 2018 showed even more growth with a 3.4% increase over the same period in 2017. All major sectors of non-farm employment have increase since last year, though a few specific industries have not. The largest drops were in Retail (400 workers), Information (200), Trade, Transportation & Utilities (200), and Federal Government (100). All other sectors held steady or grew. Most of the gains were in the Goods Producing category, where Construction, Mining & Logging, Manufacturing, and Aerospace added a combined 4,100 jobs since January 2018. In addition, Local Government added 800 jobs.

In residential and condo real estate, new listings and pending sales were down 17% and 15% respectively in February 2019 compared with 2018. Median home sale price also dipped slightly to $456,000. Months-of-inventory (the estimated amount of time to sell all current listings) was 1.63, indicating strong demand for housing. A balanced months-of-inventory is 5 to 8 months. Vacancy rates for office and industrial properties in Q4 2018 were down approximately 2%, while retail was unchanged compared with 2017.

[1] Editorial. “Paine Field’s milestone is good for the Puget Sound Region.” The Seattle Times. March 10, 2019.

[2] Federal Aviation Administration. CY 2017 Passenger Boarding Data.

[3] Janice Podsada. ‘This county is ready to take off – and not just at the airport.” HeraldNet. December 27, 2018.

[4] Podsada. HeraldNet.