Ricky, don’t lose that number ...

I didn’t, and I didn’t misplace any other figures compiled by the Washington County Finance Department.

Each year, the finance staff cobbles together a list of data – designated “Supplemental Information.” They’re essentially fun facts that accompany the county budget booklet, published for public perusal. There is a boatload of data in each “Supplemental Information” edition, despite the mundane nature of budgetary discourse.

Being a statistical nerd – I love baseball – but not a budgetary nerd, I present some favorite takeaways from the 2019 supplement. Many of the figures are as current as they can be, from 2017 and 2018, with a few dating back a little further.

  • Largest employer
  • (as of the second quarter of 2018): Washington Hospital, flagship of the Washington Health System, with 1,735 employees. (WHS has 1,966.) Crown Castle USA is the runner-up, although the number working in the regional offices at Southpointe is not available. The monstrous telecommunications service provider employs about 4,500 worldwide.
  • The rest of the top 10
  • (chronologically): Washington Trotting Association (all humans), Monongahela Valley Hospital, Live Nation Worldwide, Walmart Associates Inc., Washington County, Giant Eagle Inc., Canon-McMillan School District, Pennsylvania System of Higher Education.
  • The county’s
  • largest employer cannot provide all medical services between West Alexander and Speers, Peters Township and Prosperity. But Washington County appears to be well fortified medically, with 380 physicians, 142 dentists, 12 ambulance services and two general hospitals in addition to Washington: Canonsburg and Monongahela Valley. There also are nine outpatient clinics.
  • Farming has diminished
  • in the county but still has a significant presence compared with most corners of the state. These figures are from 2012, so they may be a bit outdated, but they provide a viable barometer. The county, according to agcensus.usda.gov, had 1,915 farms accounting for 205,821 acres and $35.4 million in sales. (Data from 2007 – only five years earlier – bear witness to the decline in agriculture. Washington County lost 108 farms and 5,232 acres during that span.)
  • Industry has not disappeared,
  • either. The state Department of Labor & Industry – using undated figures – reported 5,455 industries were employing 86,777, at an average annual wage of $56,331. L&I said manufacturing workers averaged $60,380, construction employees $66,313, and mining/quarrying/oil and gas personnel $142,117.
  • Knowledge is good,
  • as referenced during the opening minutes of “Animal House.” And those responsible for imparting it play a significant role in the county. Figures from the 2017-18 school year showed the county’s 14 public districts employed 2,219 professionals, an average of 158.5 per district, who were paid at an average of $62,905. Students – 26,997 of them – outnumbered professionals by about 12 to 1. The county also has a total of 25 private and non-public schools, with 152 full-time equivalent teachers and 19,936 students – a 13 to 1 ratio.
  • Speaking of knowledge
  • . . . there were seven schools of higher education in the county during the fall of 2017. California University of Pennsylvania had the largest enrollment (7,857), more than 5.5 times that of Washington & Jefferson College (1,405). But W&J had a much smaller full-time faculty-to-student ratio (11.5 to 1) than Cal U. (30 to 1). (The other five schools: Washington Hospital School of Nursing, Washington Hospital School of Radiologic Technology; Penn Commercial Business/Technical; and branch campuses of Waynesburg University and Community College of Allegheny County.)
  • The county
  • had nearly 8,000 unoccupied housing units in 2010, according to U.S. Census figures, which – again – could be outdated, yet a reasonable measuring stick. The Census Bureau listed 92,977 units, with 85,089 occupied.
  • You can navigate
  • Washington County by air, land, water and rail. There are three airports, 41.5 river miles and two railway companies – but the main way is the highway. The county has 2,875 miles of paved roadways, with 1,707 categorized as township or local; 1,123 state; and nearly 65 on interstates. There also are 118 county-maintained bridges, 110 state bridges, and 22 of those always alluring covered bridges.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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