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Eye On Olympia

Thu., June 14, 2007, 11:36 a.m.

More beans to count…

State revenue forecaster Chang Mook Sohn now predicts that an extra $484 million will roll into state coffers over the next two years.

The state's economy "continues to outperform the U.S. economy" particularly in construction and real estate, Sohn said. And despite his repeated cautions that the run-up in real estate prices cannot continue forever, Washington's market is holding up well so far, he said. (He still expects a slowdown.)

Other big factors: Boeing and Microsoft, both of which are doing well and benefitting from a relatively weak U.S. dollar, which makes their products cheaper overseas. Remarkably, Washington exports have increased 40 percent from 2005, to $53 billion a year.

Also healthy: job growth (2.1 percent here versus 1.4 percent nationally). The state's April unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, Sohn said, was the lowest in state history.

In a press release accompanying Sohn's forecast, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she's pleased, but cautioned that high fuel prices and national real estate weakness could hurt the state in the future.

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