It's a question industry groups and economic development folks try to answer to rally the crowd around the aerospace industry and its importance here.
At the end of February, Economic Alliance Snohomish County published a report designed to give residents a reason -- a financial one -- to care about.
Over a five-year period, the county's aerospace, life sciences and electronics manufacturing industries added 6,232 workers with an average salary of $89,476, the report said.
The Economic Alliance report asserts that an additional 5,030 "indirect" jobs were created as a result of the increase in employment in aerospace and similar industries.
All 11,262 people were paid nearly $777 million from 2006-10, the years studied.
How did these aerospace-related workers spend their money?
They paid attorneys and accountants $11.7 million over the five years. That doesn't count more than $2 million those people paid in alimony or $3 million they donated to churches in the county.
Aerospace workers, it seems, also like their pets and their children, paying $9.9 million in pet and toy expenditures over five years.
They spent $3.3 million on tobacco products and $6.5 million on alcohol.
Restaurants raked in $35.4 million from the 11,262 workers, while grocery stores collected $49.5 million.
The two biggest benefactors of the workers' salaries: the housing and automotive industries. Nearly 25 percent of their compensation -- $152.4 million -- went to paying mortgages or rent, property taxes and housing repair. About 14.5 percent was pocketed by car dealers, gas stations and auto-repair shops.
How do these numbers relate to the recent increase in hiring at the Boeing Co. and among aerospace companies in the county?
The county added more aerospace jobs last year, 6,700 positions, than it did the previous five, noted John Monroe, chief operations officer of Economic Alliance. Theoretically, then, the county should start to see a boost in hiring in other industries as a result of the aerospace hiring. And the county will see an influx of cash more quickly than it did from 2006-10, given the increasing number of aerospace jobs being added.
"Sometimes people don't understand why (Economic Alliance and others) spend so much time focusing on aerospace," Monroe said. "This is why."
MORE HBJ HEADLINES
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.