San Juan County Economic Development Council | Helping islands businesses to thrive


The beauty of the islands is an underlying driver of three of the larger pillars of our economy: leisure/hospitality, retail and construction. Beyond these sectors the county boasts a diverse economic base of specialty manufacturing, professional and financial services, healthcare and other employment (2015 data):

  • Construction                                                                11%
  • Government & Education                                         18%
  • Healthcare                                                                      7%
  • Leisure & Hospitality                                                 26%
  • Manufacturing & Other                                             14%
  • Professional, Business & Financial Services         12%
  • Retail                                                                             12%

After a period as the fastest growing county in Washington, San Juan County has settled into a population growth rate of 0.5-1%/yr. Our median income rivals King County but wage income is below state average due to our substantial seasonal and retail/hospitality workforce. The difference is investment and unearned income received by our wealthy retiree population.

A large portion of the spending of island residents occurs at mainland retailers or online, creating opportunities for local businesses to intercept this spending. Given the strength of our construction sector, trades professionals are in high demand.

Unemployment on the islands varies from near the lowest in the state during the peak summer months to near the state average during the remainder of the year. The county benefits from an extremely skilled and creative workforce but highly specialized skills may need to be recruited or sourced remotely.

County Level Data Sources
Population, housing, education US Census ACS
Employment, wages, prices US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Income Internal Revenue Service
Labor Market Washington ESD
Tourism Economic Impacts Dean Runyon & Associates