The economic damage done to Washington State by the coronavirus dominates the latest financial outlook report released this week by the Economic Revenue Forecast Council. It foreshadows a revenue forecast the council will make to state legislators on June 17.
Main points taken from the report:
- Unemployment soared to 15.4% in April from 3.8% in February. The April rate was an all-time high in the series that dates back to 1976. The depth and speed of job losses was unprecedented in the state’s history. Total nonfarm payroll employment fell 446,200 in the recent four-month period.
- Revenue collections from February 11 to May 10 were down 8.7% or $429 million below earlier expectations.
- Car and truck sales plummeted to the lowest level in the history of the series that dates back to July 1970. The seasonally adjusted number of new vehicle registrations is down 68.9% over the year.
- The state expects an 11.0% decline in Washington employment this year compared to the 1.8% increase in the February forecast.
- Washington exports declined over the year for a sixth consecutive quarter. Year-over-year exports decreased 35.1% in the first quarter of 2020. This was due largely to a lack of Boeing planes to export.
The virus outbreak resulted in government orders to close stores and for employees to stay home and work remotely to reduce the spread of the illness.
The state Legislature will be closely watching the council’s budget forecast later this month in preparation for a possible special session to address the drops in revenue. Governor Inslee has yet to call for a special session.