Where does Washington fit in with the districts of Panem? With its robust, and diverse economy, the BLS' list suggests the state could be in various parts of Panem.
The data is in, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds Washington to have one of the most diverse economies in Panem … er … The United States.
For those unfamiliar with Katniss, Panem, Gale and the Capitol, here’s a little catch-up: In author Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy – which was made into a film series – Panem is a futuristic republic with 12 districts that formed following a disastrous conflict in North America. The Capitol controls the districts and thus the product of their labor: luxury goods, rock quarrying, electronics, fish, power generation, transportation manufacturing, lumber, textiles, grain, livestock, crops, coal.
In the trilogy, two representatives from each of those districts participate yearly in a gladiator-style, to-the-death competition. The protagonist, Katniss, a brave representative chosen from the poor coal-mining District 12, overcomes the odds with her success at the games.
Where does Washington state fit in with the districts of Panem according the the Bureau of Labor Statistics? Depends what part of the state we are talking about. With its robust and diverse economy, Washington could be in various parts of Panem.
District 4: Fishing
True to stereotypes of the Pacific Northwest, many Washingtonians fish for a living. Pacific County has the highest percentage of fishermen of any U.S. county by two times.
Other nearby areas in District 4? Kodiak, Alaska, made the list. So did Oregon’s Lincoln and Curry counties. We’re in good (fishy) company here in the Upper Left United States.
District 6: Transportation Manufacturing
The Seattle area fits squarely into Panem’s District 6, known for transportation manufacturing. Hellooo, Boeing. Snohomish County has the nation’s highest percentage of workers in “aerospace product and parts manufacturing.” King County was fourth for U.S. counties involved in transportation manufacturing.
In July 2016, Boeing’s Washington workforce was still larger than Microsoft’s and Amazon’s combined. During its 100th anniversary celebration, a Times report said, “Boeing, more than any other company over the past century, has shaped and bolstered the Puget Sound economy by providing tens of thousands of jobs, helping mold the region’s business culture and putting Seattle on the map as a technology and export center.”
District 7: Lumber
The lumber industry helped put Seattle on the map, but other parts of the state would now be in District 7 of Panem. Southwest Washington and Longview would easily fit into District 7. This region of Washington, near Oregon, has some of the highest density of wood sawing machine setters, operators and tenders in the country. Skamania County, with an idle veneer mill, hopes to get back to the booming timber industry of its past, and residents are partially counting on President Donald Trump for that comeback.
The city of Grants Pass and the South Coast counties in Oregon would also fit in Panem’s District 7.
District 9: Grain
Both Columbia and Lincoln counties place Washington easily into District 9, for grain production. The Palouse region, a national grain- and legume-producing powerhouse encompassing parts of southeast Washington, north-central Idaho and northeast Oregon, surely wouldn’t be overlooked by the Capitol.
Whitman County, while not on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list, has the most productive dryland wheat acreage in the country. Walla Walla County is also a significant supplier of wheat domestically and internationally.
District 11: Crops
Washington state has half of the top U.S. counties with the highest percentage of workers in fruit and tree-nut farming industry. These include Douglas, Okanogan, Chelan, Grant and Yakima counties.
The state is known for apples, along with cherries and wine grapes. In the 1990s, the apple industry was failing so badly (mainly because of overproduction of the Red Delicious variety), it prompted a federal government bailout. Nowadays, variety is key, and apples are widely successful, with 148,000 acres of them growing in the state.
Close by, Hood River County in Oregon is another Pacific Northwest contender for highest percentage of workers in crops. Their main export? Following a disastrous apple-orchard freeze in 1910, farmers started over by planting pears.
So if Washington had to be corralled into a single district, which would it be? The numbers show that Washington, because of Boeing, fits best into District 6. Boeing, far and away, holds the title as the largest private-sector employer in Washington state. Nearly half Boeing’s global workforce, 77,000 individuals, are based here.
Let’s just hope a) it doesn’t come down to actual Hunger Games in the coming uncertain economic times, and if it does, we have b) the best and brightest volunteer as tribute (Gov. Jay Inslee, maybe?).