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February 2019

News In Brief

February 7, 2019

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According to a 2017 analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs grew at double the rate of non-STEM jobs between 2009 and 2015. STEM jobs are growing everywhere, but where are the hotspots, and where should you work in the field? WalletHub released a ranking of the best cities for STEM jobs, determined by a set of 20 key metrics assigned points that were evenly distributed into three categories: professional opportunities, STEM-friendliness and quality of life. Seattle topped the list for professional opportunities, which included metrics like job openings and employment growth. Also included in the ranking was STEM-friendliness, like qualities of engineering schools and math scores. And quality of life, which included metrics like housing affordability -- Seattle did not make the top 10 for quality of life.



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The state Supreme Court has declined to immediately take up the lower-court ruling that killed Seattle's income tax and is instead sending the case to the Court of Appeals. The Seattle Times reports the Supreme Court issued the order after meeting en banc Thursday, more than a year after the city petitioned for direct review. Seattle made the request in December 2017, after a King County Superior Court judge struck down the tax on well-off households, which the city hadn't yet started to collect. Rather than appeal Judge John Ruhl's ruling to the Court of Appeals, the city went straight to the Supreme Court. Supporters have seen Seattle's case as an opportunity to break through the long-standing inability of Washington and its cities to tax the wealthy.




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A group of senators from the Evergreen State have filed a bill to stay on Daylight Saving Time all year round. Again. It's become a routine part of each new year, when Washington lawmakers move to eliminate switching back from Daylight Saving Time. This year's bill is sponsored by Senators Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), and Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim). Their bill, SB 5139, would enact permanent Daylight Saving Time within the state. Were it to be enacted, sunrise and sunset would be one hour later in the day during November to March than it is now. Supporters believe that removing the shift would lessen some of the side effects that come with Daylight Saving Time.




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Discounted listings are becoming more commonplace, with 38 of the largest 45 U.S. markets seeing an increase in price reductions in December, according to a new report from realtor.comĀ®. The highest number of price reductions on homes was in Charlotte, N.C., where 24 percent of listings were discounted in December, followed by San Jose, Calif. (10 percent); Tampa, Fla. (9 percent); Phoenix (9 percent); and Seattle (8 percent). Further, 40 percent of homes are spending more time on the market, according to realtor.comĀ®'s report.



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A new study by WalletHub named Washington the worst state in the Lower 48 to drive in, only better than Alaska and Hawaii and even worse than California. The study used 30 key sets of data ranging from average gas prices to share of rush-hour traffic congestion to road quality. Washington, as you might expect, scored below average in several of their categories, including average gas prices (48th of 50), road quality (44th), car theft rate (44th), auto maintenance costs (37th) and share of rush hour traffic congestion (33rd).




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The town of Snoqualmie was recently given that crown of the "Safest City In Washington" by the National Council for Home Safety and Security which rated all 50 states and then all cities in those states. "The study was completed primarily to highlight the cities that have had the least amount of violent and non-violent crimes per population, while also bringing awareness to the cities that are more likely to have crime per capita," the study's authors wrote. In Washington, 72 cities met the criteria to be ranked, and Snoqualmie was tops in the study. Over the study year, the city reported just two reported violent crimes, defined as either murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery or aggravated assault -- far and away the lowest in the state. The town was third in lowest property crimes as well. Oak Harbor was second, followed by Sunnyside and West Richland in Eastern Washington. Enumclaw, Grandview, Washougal, Lynden, Bainbridge Island, and Battle Ground rounded out the Top 10. Some of the larger cities on the list: Bellevue (39), Seattle (42), Everett (49), and Bellingham (53). The bottom five? Kent, Federal way, Tacoma, Spokane and... University Place.



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The Seattle-based home improvement site Porch.com asked first-time homebuyers what they regretted. The top regret: Buying a house that's too small. Other first-time buyer regrets include not doing enough research, not saving enough before buying that first house and underestimating how much it costs to maintain that house.



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Seattle home price growth dropped to an average of 6.3 percent in November amid a slowing U.S. real estate market - but the city still had the third-highest price increase in the nation, according to a new report released late January. As recently as last summer, Seattle home prices were posting average year-over-year increases of 12 percent or more. But U.S. home price appreciation has slowed in nearly all cities, including Seattle, as sales have tumbled and affordability has deteriorated for many would-be buyers. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index grew 4.7 percent from a year earlier, dropping off from a 5 percent annual increase in October, according to the new report. The Las Vegas metro area posted the largest price gains at 12 percent, followed by Phoenix at 8.1 percent and Seattle at 6.3 percent. All 20 of the metro areas tracked by the index reported price gains, with Washington, DC posting the slowest gain at 2.7 percent. Still, 2019 has offered consumers some relief as the average 30-year mortgage rate has dipped to 4.45 percent from a recent peak of nearly 5 percent. This could help to boost demand after sales declined last year.


More builders are outfitting newly constructed homes with smart-home technology, and many buyers say they'll pay extra for it, according to research from John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Sixty percent of home shoppers say they'd spend more on a home with a smart thermostat, the consulting firm's survey of more than 23,000 shows. Slightly more-67 percent-say they'd pay extra for an oversized kitchen. More than 60 percent of new-home buyers also say they'd pay more for an exterior security camera and smart locks. In a separate John Burns survey of more than 300 home builders, 53 percent say they incorporate smart-home technology into new construction. Even so, 42 percent of buyers say they would purchase additional technology. John Burns Real Estate Consulting found some differences among certain segments of buyers regarding which smart-home tech they find most attractive, including:
Young singles and couples: most likely to choose smart thermostats.
Families: most likely to choose a smart garage that is responsive to app controls and voice commands.
Older buyers: most likely to pay extra to have smart locks.