Among Washington’s industries by far the largest contributor to the economy is the manufacture of transportation equipment, primarily aircraft, although the industrial sector also includes companies building boats, trucks, and equipment for space exploration. Other important manufacturing industries in the state include food processing, chiefly seafoods, fruits, vegetables, and beverages; forest products, particularly lumber and plywood; computers and electronic goods; and pulp and paper.
Manufacturing is widely distributed throughout the state. Food-processing plants are located in many parts of the state, and wine-making from the state’s grape harvest is a growing industry. The greatest concentration of industry, however, is in the western part of the state around Puget Sound.
The aerospace industry is the single most important industry in the state, and The Boeing Company, which was founded in Seattle in 1916, is the state’s largest employer. Dependence on one major industry made the state’s economy susceptible to cycles. For example, in the early 1970s, Boeing was forced to reduce its workforce from approximately 90,000 people to 38,000 because of a decline in airplane orders and a cutback in federal funds for experimental projects such as the development of the Supersonic Transport. The state experienced a severe recession as a result of the employment reductions. Since then manufacturing in the state has diversified, which helped prevent another recession when aerospace manufacturing declined for a period in the early 1990s.
The manufacture of forest products was Washington’s first major industry. Although its importance has diminished, it still contributes to the state economy. Washington is an important producer of wood pulp, paper, plywood, and shingles and shakes, in addition to lumber. The manufacture of lumbering equipment is also significant.
Washington’s mineral output is modest. Mining products with the highest value are sand and gravel used for construction, crushed stone, portland cement, gold, and magnesium metal. Other important minerals are clay, natural gemstones, and gypsum. "Washington" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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