State Relations

September 24, 2020

State revenue and employment numbers higher than previously estimated

On Sept. 23, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released their newest economic and revenue update, which estimates the state’s General Fund revenue collections will be $2.2 billion higher than what was forecasted in June for the current 2019-21 budget cycle. State revenue collections between Aug. 11 and Sept. 10 were $319.9 million (22.5%) higher than the quarterly June forecast, and cumulative collections are now $962.8 million (20.5%) higher than projected.

This is welcome news following the Council’s June quarterly revenue report, which estimated an astounding $4.5 billion revenue shortfall for the current biennium due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington employment numbers have also seen an improvement since the unemployment rate high of 16.3 percent in April. As of August, nearly half the jobs lost in March and April have been recovered and the unemployment rate has declined to 8.5 percent. Defying June predictions, there are now 81,800 more employed individuals than expected.

Economic and revenue forecasting remains challenging due to the unknown and constantly changing variables resulting from the ongoing pandemic. Using current data, total General Fund revenues are now projected at about $50.4 billion for the current 2019-21 budget cycle. This would leave the state with a net $760 million surplus at the end of the budget cycle on June 30, 2021. Revenue collections remain below pre-pandemic levels but are moving in the right direction and have seen a significant improvement from the June forecast.

Washington state will continue to face challenges over the next few months and years due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic. Due to fiscal concerns, the state has implemented a number of cost saving measures and has asked agencies, including the University of Washington, to identify savings options in their 2021-23 budget requests.

The next quarterly revenue forecast is scheduled for Nov. 18 and will provide a better picture of the state’s economic health.

To view the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council’s complete September report, click here.