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June 2019

News In Brief

June 6, 2019

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Washington is one of the better states in the nation for working moms - but it is far from perfect, according to a new study by personal finance website WalletHub and reported by KOMO News. The study, released Tuesday ahead of Mother's Day, also found that many of the challenges facing Washington's working moms are common to most or all states. "Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, and more than 70 percent of moms with young children are working," wrote the study's authors. "Yet women earned only 85 percent of what men made in 2018 and have far less upward mobility. ... Such obvious inequality sparks debates about gender roles in a shifting socioeconomic environment." The study found that the Evergreen State ranks 10th in the nation overall for moms with young children who work outside the home, based on 16 different criteria. And Washington ranked even better than that in some specific areas. For example, the study found that Washington has the second-best day care quality in the nation and the third-best parental leave policy score. But in other areas, the state is not so great for working women. The report found that Washington has the third-highest gender pay gap in the U.S., meaning that women's earnings are significantly lower than men's earnings, on average. Washington also is the sixth-worst state when it comes to professional opportunities for women, according to the study. And in other areas important to working moms, the Evergreen State was just average or slightly above average. The median women's salary in Washington ranks only 29th in the nation, when adjusted for cost-of-living, and the state ranks 22nd when it comes to the ratio of female executives to male executives. On the other hand, Washington's percentage of single moms in poverty is 12th lowest in the U.S., and the average length of women's workdays is the nation's 13th lowest. The best state overall for working moms was found to be Massachusetts, followed by Rhode Island and Connecticut. The three worst states were Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina, according to the study.



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A top national news site has ranked Washington as the best state in America, according to a report by KOMO News. The ranking, announced recently by U.S. News & World Report, says the home of Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks and Boeing earned the No. 1 ranking based on several criteria, including health care, education, economy and opportunity. Meanwhile, a health lifestyle site has ranked Seattle as America's second-fittest city. That ranking, by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, is based on the Emerald City's high marks on 33 different measures of personal health habits and how well that works to encourage fitness in the overall community. The two high rankings together echo much of what local residents already know - that Washington is a good place to live and work. Despite its top ranking, Washington does have some weak points, according the U.S. News study. That state's transportation system is "middling," and average commute times are among the longest in the nation, the study found. "Necessities, particularly housing, are beyond the means of many workers in booming areas of the state.



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According to the Seattle Times, recently released census data shows that from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, Seattle's population grew by more than 15,000, bringing the total to 745,000. That's a one-year increase of 2.1 percent, which ranks Seattle as the second-fastest growing among the 50 most-populous U.S. cities. One year earlier, from 2016 to 2017, the city added 19,000 people, with a growth rate of 2.7 percent. A year before that, Seattle was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Seattle's population boom has been long-lasting. We have now ranked among the top 5 fastest-growing big cities for six consecutive years. Since 2010, Seattle has grown by 22 percent, making us the fastest-growing big city of the decade. Our suburbs have not had such phenomenal growth in population. In fact, 2018 marks the third consecutive year that Seattle has added more people than all the King County suburbs combined. Excluding Seattle, the county grew by about 13,500 people last year, for a growth rate of a little less than 1 percent - less than half Seattle's rate. However, Redmond - with a 4.2 percent increase, is the fastest growing city in Washington, among those with at least 50,000 people. Redmond's population now stands at 65,000. Among the county's other cities with at least 50,000 people, Bellevue grew by 1.5 percent, followed by Sammamish at 1.1 percent.




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Tacoma is currently the hottest housing market in the United States, according to a report released late May from real estate brokerage company Redfin and reported by KOMO news. Half the homes in the city 35 miles south of Seattle sold within two weeks in May, with the typical home finding a buyer in a little more than a week. Redfin also says Tacoma was left with just 1.3 months supply of homes as of the first week of May. The lowest supply in the country. Almost half of the Tacoma homes sold for the four weeks ending May 19 sold above the asking price, more than any other metro except San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. According to Redfin, the rise in homebuyer interest is largely due to buyers being priced out of Seattle. The median sale price for a home in Seattle is $595,000, compared to $370,000 in Tacoma.



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The Evergreen State was just named the second-best state in the U.S. to find a job, according to research by WalletHub. The group compared all 50 states across 33 key indications of job market strength, opportunity and a health economy, the study authors said. Data sets range from employment growth to median annual income to average commute time. Washington placed especially well in monthly average starting salary (2nd) and job satisfaction (8th) and was above average in employment growth, average length of work week and median annual income. Under the overall umbrella category of "Economic Environment Rank", Washington was tops in the nation. Massachusetts was named the top state overall, with Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire rounding out the Top 5. West Virginia was deemed the worst state with Mississippi and Kentucky also faring quite poor in the study's rankings.



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Seattle is stepping up inspections and increasing fees to monitor homes and businesses that sit vacant. The changes come as concerns skyrocket over landlords who don't take care of their properties. To cope, city officials have hired extra inspectors to monitor a wider range of properties. Another change is inspections will be done monthly instead of quarterly. Homes and businesses will also be pre-enrolled in the inspection program if the owner plans to redevelop it but has a building on the property that will sit abandoned in the interim. City officials will push for alternate uses for buildings rather than have them sit empty, such as hosting a temporary art gallery. The changes take effect June 1. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections has typically monitored about 100 properties that consistently receive nuisance complaints. The expanded program is expected to track about 1,200 properties around the city. Fees are also going up by 3%.