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August 2019

News In Brief

August 5, 2019

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Job openings and salaries rose across the country in June, but just like the rest of 2019, it was a slow crawl compared to 2018 numbers. In Seattle however, the increases were a bit more robust, according to a Glassdoor jobs report. Across the city, median pay rose 2.4% to $63,202 a year, while total job openings tallied 109,322, a 4.3% increase. National numbers saw respective 1.7% and 1.4% increases for median pay and job openings. The increase of job openings in Seattle stacked up well against other major U.S. cities as well. Atlanta, Philadelphia and Boston had higher percent gains, but the Emerald City's job openings increase shot past those of Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Houston and Los Angeles - the last three of which had less job openings for June 2019 than June 2018. Four out of the top 10 highest paying jobs in the report for Seattle were associated with technology. But in a sign that tech jobs may be leveling off salaries, only one was in the top 10 for most year-over-year growth. Don't count too hard on slowing tech salaries, however, because 11 tech job titles still had positive growth over last year. The most robust growth in Seattle wages was spread across health, finance, food service and sales jobs. But again, a more nuanced look at the data showed that seven of the top 10 jobs with the best pay growth still had a median base pay of under $50,000. Nine out of 10 were under $60,000.



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A new study underway by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) shows that continuing demand for air travel in the region shows no signs of slowing down. The report points to recent population, employment, and income growth as driving regional aviation demand. The multiyear aviation study, designed to provide a picture of aviation activities and needs in the region, projects overall demand today more than doubling in the region by 2050. Regional demand for passenger boardings is expected to grow from 24.0 million in 2018 to between 49.3 million and 55.6 million by 2050. At this point in the work, the study does not make recommendations on specific strategies to accommodate projected growth, but the numbers show that the demand for air travel far exceeds current facilities and operations, and additional investments to accommodate this growth are necessary. Sea-Tac Airport is investing in its facilities, now and over the next decade to accommodate this growth, and a statewide commission is in the process of evaluating sites for a second commercial airport that will meet long-term future needs. The Port supported the recently created statewide commission which will review options for future aviation facilities.



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The Washington State Supreme Court has upheld Seattle's "democracy vouchers" program, which allows residents to contribute taxpayer money to qualifying political candidates. The justices issued their unanimous opinion mid-July. The Seattle Times reports that under the program approved at the ballot in 2015 and first used in 2017, the city raises $3 million annually in property taxes. Each election cycle, voters receive four $25 vouchers that they can sign over to candidates who abide by certain rules. Dozens of candidates are using the vouchers in this year's City Council elections. Proponents say the vouchers counter big money in politics by involving people who otherwise wouldn't donate and by helping lesser-known candidates compete. Opponents said the voucher system violated their free speech rights by forcing them to support candidates they didn't favor, but the justices disagreed.



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If you own a business in Seattle, odds are the best in the nation that it's making money. A new study by LendingTree finds Seattle has the highest rate of profitable businesses in the country. Of the 51,661 total businesses in Seattle surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau, 36,643 reported making a profit - a whopping 70.93% success rate and the only city in the nation that topped 70%. The rests of the Top 10:

  1. Seattle - 70.93%
  2. Louisville, Ky. - 69.98%
  3. Indianapolis - 69.92%
  4. Portland, Ore. - 69.85%
  5. Denver - 69.37%
  6. Columbus, Ohio - 69.09%
  7. Minneapolis - 69.05%
  8. Milwaukee - 68.44%
  9. Nashville, Tenn. - 68.21%
  10. Charlotte, N.C. - 67.93%

Of the rest of the firms in Seattle, 16% reported losing money and 13% reported breaking even, researchers found. Small business exits were down in Seattle, with a greater number of startups in the third quarter of 2017, the most recent information available, according to the study. Washington's overall economy grew at 5.8% in the third quarter of 2018, faster than the U.S. national rate of 3.4%. New York City was deemed the city with the fewest profitable businesses, but even then more than half there make money (57.38%). On the other hand, Houston was the unfortunate champion of the unprofitable firm. According to Census Bureau data, 23.37% of firms there report a loss, according to LendingTree.



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Transportation officials are considering replacing Washington state's gas tax to a system that would charge drivers by the mile, according to KOMO news. The News Tribune reported that the state Transportation Commission is expected to vote in December on tax recommendations to give the state Legislature. Democratic state Sen. Rebecca Saldana, vice chairwoman of the transportation committee, says the state can't rely long term on gas tax revenue to fund transportation needs because vehicles have become more fuel-efficient. She says if lawmakers support a pay-per-mile system, the tax would need to be phased in over 10 to 25 years. The state Legislature would set the rate people are taxed for the miles they drive as well as how the mileage is reported to the state.