Pacific Northwest National Laboratory pays out about $377 million in salaries and wages each year in Washington state, according to a new report prepared by the lab to quantify the lab’s economic impact on the Tri-Cities and the state.
Those salaries and wages, plus $48 million in purchased goods and services and other spending flows into the economy and multiplies to support about $1.3 billion in total economic output in the state, the study said.
The study, released Thursday, looked specifically at the economic impacts of fiscal 2013, the most recent year that state and lab data were available.
The Department of Energy national lab in Richland is frequently asked by state and local governments, business and civic groups for economic information about the lab, said PNNL spokesman Greg Koller.
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That, and the fact that most national labs already publish similar reports, led to the new report. PNNL economists on staff prepared the report, rather than contracting it out to universities as other labs typically do, which cut expenses, Koller said.
“The community has long recognized the economic impact of PNNL is significant. Seeing the impact actually quantified in this report should be a real eye-opener here locally and to the entire region,” said Carl Adrian, president of the Tri-City Development Council, in a statement.
Most of the wages paid by the Department of Energy lab are to staff based in Richland, where about 3,840 of its 4,308 employees work. PNNL is the Tri-Cities’ largest employer, according to TRIDEC.
And the wages paid by the national lab are well above the state average, overall and for comparable jobs.
In fiscal 2013 the average annual pay was $97,600, when student employees were excluded. With student employees, the average was $91,100. The average wage for a Washington employee statewide that year was $51,600.
“We’re competing nationally and even internationally for some of the best scientists and engineers in the country and the world and that’s what the market is now for those highly educated, highly trained scientists and engineers,” Koller said.
About 38 percent of the PNNL workforce is comprised of scientists and engineers, and 1,038 employees had doctorate degrees in 2013.
The average wage for a scientist at PNNL is $98,000 compared to $77,000 average for the state. The average wage for an engineer at PNNL is $104,000 compared to the state average of $95,000.
Because of PNNL’s large percentage of high-wage professions, which also includes computer specialists and business and financial specialists, “the average PNNL worker likely spends at a higher level, and therefore, has an above-average impact on the state economy compared to the average worker in the state,” the study said.
Some of the other occupational groups at the lab also make better wages than average for the state, including construction operations and maintenance workers, who make an average of $71,000 compared to an average of $47,000 in the state. Administrative and clerical workers make an average of $45,000 at PNNL compared to an average of $40,000 statewide.
Retired staff, many of whom continue to live in the Mid-Columbia, also contribute to the local economy.
The report said that up to 2,032 PNNL retirees lived in Washington state in fiscal 2013, receiving pension and Social Security benefits estimated at $89 million. That income, not including their retirement savings, would support about 500 jobs.
The report is posted at http://1.usa.gov/1w3TAMu.