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June 2016

News In Brief

  • Taxable retail sales figures are just one indicator of economic health in Washington state, and Washington state revenue officials reported that taxable retail sales in 2015 topped $135 billion. That represents an 8.4 percent increase over 2014. The retail trade sector helped drive the increase, with sales jumping 5.9 percent to nearly $60 billion. The construction sector also rose significantly in 2015 with $24.5 billion in taxable sales. Sales of vehicles and parts hit $14.9 billion last year representing a 10.7 percent increase. New building construction drove $13.8 billion of the overall $24.5 billion in taxable sales tallied by the construction sector. Accommodations and food services went up 9.1 percent to $15.7 billion.

  • The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that the Port of Everett is giving its $350M marina redevelopment initiative another go. While the first attempt 16 years ago failed, the Port has high hopes for the new Waterfront Place project. Once completed, it will have 650 residences, two hotels, commercial office and retail space, and a park on a 65-acre site once occupied by lumber and shingle mills. One of the goals is to bring people to the area, and potentially support over 2,000 family-wage jobs.

  • Zillow recently released a report that Seattle is eclipsed only by Columbus, Ohio when it comes to apartment rentals. To arrive at their ratings, the company looked at units built in 2011 or later, the percent of new units built in the last year that rented within three months, and the apartment rent appreciation over the past year. Seattle was deemed second hottest, ahead of Denver and San Jose, which tied for third.

  • According to the Census Bureau, despite improving house prices, the ownership rate fell in the first quarter to a nearly half-century low of 63.5% nationally. That's 0.2 percentage point lower than in the same quarter last year and 0.3 point below the fourth quarter. The first quarter rate for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area was 57.7 percent. That marks a significant drop from the same period in 2014, when the rate was 61.3 percent.

  • With tech and health care leading the pack, the Seattle metro area is hiring at a rate twice that of the rest of the nation, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. This is the picture painted by Simply Hired, a California-based career site. According to their records, the number of Seattle job posting increased by 3.85 percent over January. During that same period, the number of listings nationally increased by just 1.91 percent.

  • The 40-story Nexus condo tower is the next residential development under construction in the Denny Triangle. It will contain 403 units, with small one-bedrooms expected to start in the mid-$300,000s. Though mortgages for these units may be considered steep by some, they should be competitive with neighborhood rents, which have increased 35 percent over the last five years as reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

  • According to data released last month, Seattle grew by 2.3 percent between 2014 and 2015, ranking fourth among the 50 largest U.S. cities. Denver holds the top spot, with a 2.8 percent jump in population. The census data show Seattle had a net growth of about 15,000 people in the one-year period, pushing the city's population to 684,451 last year. Seattle now ranks as the 18th most-populous city in the United States, up from 20th in 2014. Washington's second- and third-largest cities grew at a slower pace. Spokane registered less than 1 percent growth for the year, and Tacoma's population increased by 1.6 percent.