Review the Business Climate

How it's done

The business climate is the general economic environment that local businesses operate in. Reviewing and understanding the local business climate provides valuable insights about the economy, costs, risks, and incentives that may impact the success of your business. This activity will guide you to better understand the business climate in Seattle and help you answer the following fundamental questions.

What is the business climate in Seattle?

We have compiled the most important aspects of Seattle’s business climate as an interactive dashboard below. This dashboard provides valuable economic, resident, household, dwelling and development indicators that may influence the success of your business.




Resident Indicator Population Growth Chart






What costs and assistance should I know about?

Whether you have a new or existing business it is critical to be aware of costs, incentives and grants that impact your business. This dashboard provides you with a snapshot of the major costs of conducting a business in Seattle and assistance available to Seattle businesses.

The Seattle business license tax is applied to the gross revenue that businesses earn. It is sometimes called the Seattle business and occupation tax (B&O tax) or gross receipts tax. The rate varies by business type and is only applied to businesses with gross revenue of $100,000 or more.

Business Type Tax rate
Service and Other Business Activities .415%
Retail Sales and Retail Services .215%
Wholesaling .215%
Manufacturing or Extracting .215%
Tour Operator or Processing for Hire .215%
Transporting Freight for Hire .415%
Printing or Publishing .215%
International Investment Management Services .150%
Businesses that require a regulatory endorsement

The City of Seattle regulates some business activities. These businesses require both a standard business license tax certificate and a regulatory endorsement on the license.

Review this list to see if your business requires a regulatory endorsement. Common businesses include cannabis, taxis, for-hire vehicles, and transportation network companies.

Washington State Taxes

The Washington State Department of Revenue has a guide to the state tax obligations of specific industries.

A new business such as a restaurant, shop, or office in a commercial building may require several different kinds of permits. If you're opening a home business, different rules apply. You may need one or more of the permits below to open a business.

Change of use

You need a construction permit to establish use if your new business is different than the former business that was in the space -- for example, you want to open a retail store in a space that was previously an office – even if you are not planning to remodel the space.


You may only need a construction subject-to-field-inspection permit if you will be remodeling your space but not changing its use — for example, you want to open a restaurant in a space that last held a restaurant. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections tries to issue these permits on the day you apply.

If you don’t qualify for a subject-to-field-inspection construction permit, you will need a construction addition/alteration permit to remodel a space.

Visit the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections for information on permits and costs.

The list below contains the average annual wages in King County. Visit the Washington State Employment Security Department for reports on additional industries and occupations.

2 digit NAICS Industry description Average annual employment Average annual wage
TOTAL TOTAL 1,274,371 $72,451
11 Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 2,459 $67,416
21 Mining * *
22 Utilities * *
23 Construction 62,948 $66,001
31-33 Manufacturing 106,258 $85,321
42 Wholesale trade 61,103 $84,101
44-45 Retail trade 131,946 $52,667
48-49 Transportation and warehousing 46,240 $62,124
51 Information 88,889 $174,003
52 Finance and insurance 41,259 $107,680
53 Real estate and rental and leasing 25,178 $57,860
54 Professional and technical services 113,015 $96,540
55 Management of companies and enterprises 30,058 $113,573
56 Administrative and waste services 68,845 $54,099
61 Educational services 20,609 $38,863
62 Health care and social assistance 139,850 $52,905
71 Arts, entertainment, and recreation * *
72 Accommodation and food services 103,913 $24,485
81 Other services, except public administration 42,276 $42,884
GOVERNMENT 163,802 $66,284

* Employment and wages not shown to avoid disclosure of data for individual employer.

Washington Business Incentives

The State of Washington offers several incentives for businesses of all sizes. Your business may qualify for multiple incentives, which come in the form of deferrals, reduced B&O rates, exemptions and credits. Learn more

General Manufacturing Biofuel Industry
Rural County/Community Empowerment Zone (CEZ) Incentives Semiconductor Industry
High Unemployment County/CEZ Aluminum Smelting Industry
Employer Farming & Agriculture
High Technology Industry Renewable Energy/Green Incentives
Aerospace Industry Miscellaneous Incentive Programs
Extracting & Timber Manufacturing Warehouse Incentive Programs
Food Manufacturing Industry
Energy Efficiency and Resource Conservation

Incentives, tools and assistance to help your business conserve resources and prevent pollution. Learn how your business can reduce costs, gain a competitive edge, and contribute to a clean and healthy community.

Seattle City Light Business Conservation Services
Seattle Public Utilities Green Business Program
Film Production

Washington State offers a 30% cash-back in 30 days funding assistance to qualifying film productions for all money spent in Washington State, capped annually at $3.5M. Washington Filmworks also allocates $350K annually to support Washington resident filmmakers and filmmakers using new forms of production and emerging technologies through their Innovation Lab program. Learn more

Film Permits

To encourage the growth of the local film industry and attract out-of-region film productions, the City of Seattle offers a $25/day (or $25/14 days for student productions and productions with budgets under $10K) film permit, plus one-stop-shop permitting for filming on any public City of Seattle property, including City Parks, streets, sidewalks, and buildings. Learn more

How do I use this information?

Having access to business climate statistics and information is one thing, but it's quite another to use data effectively and in a way that will benefit your business. This next section will help you do just that. Learn how to use this information to make better business decisions.

Monitor the local business climate

On-going assessment of the business climate is an essential part of operating a competitive business. In any business climate, there are numerous factors outside your control that will impact your business, both positively and negatively. The health of the economy impacts all businesses, but small businesses usually feel the effect of economic changes faster than big businesses. Improvements in the economy typically provide a rapid increase in new opportunities for small businesses, while an economic downturn can have a significant and prolonged negative impact.

Unfortunately, you can’t influence the economy, but you can monitor the business climate indicators provided above and then take the necessary actions to minimise risks to your business. Staying up to date with the business climate can also help you identify new opportunities that your business can take advantage of.

Know your costs

All industries are unique and incur different types of costs when starting or operating. Understanding these costs is essential when it comes to setting prices, budgeting and planning for growth or downturns. We’ve provided some of the local costs associated with taxes, development and labor that often get overlooked by businesses. There may be other municipal and state costs that apply to your business so we encourage you to contact us to find out more.

Where can I learn more about the business climate?

While we are providing you with a range of valuable information about the business climate, the fact is that there's much more available. In this section we provide you with links to other websites that will supplement our information and help to keep your finger on the pulse.

There may also be other municipal and provincial costs that apply to your business so we encourage you to contact us to find out more.

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City of Seattle
Office of Economic Development
(206) 684-8090

700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 5752, Seattle, WA, 98104