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March 2020

News In Brief

March 6, 2020

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Amazon expects to have at least 15,000 employees in Bellevue in the next few years as the company expands from its Seattle headquarters to tap a larger labor pool. The Seattle Times reported that would be more than a sevenfold increase from now and total about as many people as worked at Bellevue's top three employers combined at the end of 2018. Amazon specified the employment plan in a corporate blog post Thursday. The online retail giant is not reducing its Seattle workforce, now more than 50,000 people. Amazon previously announced plans to build a new 43-story tower in Bellevue that would be the city's tallest building and accommodate thousands of employees. The tower, dubbed the Bellevue 600 project, would be built on land already owned by Amazon in downtown Bellevue, at the corner of 108th Avenue NE and NE 6th Street. The project is expected to be complete by 2024, in time for the opening of light rail service from Seattle to Bellevue. The new building would tower 600 feet above the street level and house about 1 million square feet of new office space, along with street-level retail and convenient connections to public transportation, company officials said. The retail giant also revealed last year that it is planning to move its entire worldwide operations team from Seattle to Bellevue.



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A new study ranks Seattle as the second-healthiest city in the nation. The study, by personal finance website WalletHub, compared more than 170 of the largest U.S. cities across 43 key metrics, from the cost of medical visits to fruit and vegetable consumption to fitness clubs per capita. San Francisco ranked as the healthiest city, with Seattle as a close second. Seattle posted some impressive scores in individual areas as well - ranking first in the nation for its share of physically active adults, third for most running trails per capita and fourth for most walking trails per capita. Other impressive rankings: Seattle came in second in the nation for green space, as measured by parkland acreage per capita, hiking trails per capita and number of bike riders and walkers; When it comes to fitness, Seattle ranked as third in the nation, as gauged by such metrics as physically active adults, fitness centers per capita and number of intramural leagues; and Seattle ranked fourth in the nation for healthy eating habits, which includes such metrics as farmers' markets per capita, access to healthy foods, fruit and vegetable consumption and healthy restaurants. Rounding out the top five healthiest cities were San Diego, third; Portland, Ore., fourth; and Washington, D.C., fifth. The nation's least healthy city, according to the study, is Brownsville, Texas. Other cities ranking in the bottom five: Laredo, Texas; Gulfport, Miss.; Shreveport, La.; and Memphis, Tenn.



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The city of Kent has been named among the Top 10 most ethnically diverse cities in America, according to a new study. WalletHub says it compared 501 of the most populated cities in the U.S. across three key metrics: ethnoracial diversity, linguistic diversity and birthplace diversity. Researchers then scored the cities using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index method -- a commonly accepted measurement of market concentration that also works effectively as a general-purpose measure of diversity, according to the study's authors. Kent came in as the 10th-most ethnically diverse city in America, scoring 10th out of 501 cities in Ethnoracial Diversity, 19th in Linguistic Diveristy and 101st in Birthplace Diversity. Wallethub's data shows 43.7% of Kent's population identify as white, while nearly 20% identify as Asian, 16% as Hispanic or Latino, and just over 12% as African-American or black. And 40% of families in the city speak a language other than English at home, their study shows. The most ethnically diverse city according to the study was Jersey City, NJ with three Maryland towns and Spring Valley, Nevada rounding out the Top 5. New York City came in 6th. But the South Sound was well represented on the list, with Renton coming in 16th overall and Federal Way at 23rd. Bellevue was in the Top 50 at 44th. Seattle ranked 135th.



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new study from the National Council for Home Safety and Security released Wednesday named Oak Harbor as Washington's safest city. The Safest Cities Report is an annual study that examined crime data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting tool, law enforcement agencies and internal data from the security sector to provide statewide rankings of city safety. The study computed the total number of crimes in a city by adding violent crimes and property crimes and created a crime rate by comparing number of crimes per 1,000 population. Non-violent crimes were not accounted for in the study. Their analysis revealed that Oak Harbor, the largest city on Whidbey Island with approximately 23,000 residents, was the safest city in Washington with a violent crime rate just above 1 per 1,000 residents and a property crime rate below 7 per 1,000 residents. Overall, the study found that only 186 crimes were reported in Oak Harbor in 2019. Other cities in the top five safest cities included West Richland, Camas, Snoqualmie and Bainbridge Island respectively. The city of Seattle ranked 61 out of the 73 cities in Washington analyzed, with a total of 43,298 crimes reported in 2019. The Emerald City had a property crime rate of 51.49 per 1,000 residents and a violent crime rate of 6.80 per 1,000 residents. However, the study noted that the state of Washington as a whole saw a 5.6% decrease in property crime and 4.4% increase in violent crime between 2018 and 2019. Tukwila scored last on the list with a property crime rate of 167.64 per 1,000 residents.



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New findings from auto insurance company MyCarInsurance123.com said that despite stringent laws surrounding distracted driving, Washington ranks 4th in the nation among states with the most distracted driving accidents. The study reported 133 fatal crashes caused by distracted driving in Washington in 2018, accounting for 14.8 percent of the total 545 fatal crashes in the state that year. And the most common culprit for distraction on the road that the study cites probably won't surprise you: cellphones. Analysis from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission found that drivers were three times more likely to be in a crash when talking on a phone. Driving while using a phone increases the risk of crash to the same level as a driver with a blood alcohol content of 1.9, according to statistics from the commission. Despite the high spot in the study, Washington has some of the strictest distracted driving laws in the country. Using a cellphone while driving, stopped in traffic or stopped at a light is labeled as an electronic DUI, and carries a fine of $136 for the first offense and $234 for a second offense. Drivers are allowed to use hands-free phones and are allowed to hold phones when contacting emergency services. Eating, smoking, grooming and reading while driving are also considered distracting driving under the law in the Evergreen State, and carry the same hefty fine - but they only work as secondary offenses. The study also found that teenagers between age 15 and 19 and the elderly, age 65 and up, were more likely to be involved in a distracted driving related accident. The state with the most distracted drivers was New Mexico, with distracted driving accounting for 25.6% of the state's 566 fatal accidents in 2018. Distracted driving laws in the state are much more lenient, with only a $25 infraction for texting and driving. There is also no statewide ban on using a handheld device while driving.



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Seattle was one of the fastest growing cities this past decade, and from 2013 to 2018, it was the fastest growing large city in the U.S., according to a recent study. The study was an analysis by Car Insurance Companies of data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau that showed recent gains in population across certain cities, but an overall decline in the country's population growth - the study said it was an 80-year low. It looked at population data from 2013 to 2018 to find growth rates, total population growth and the rate of college-educated residents. Seattle had stretched by 90,731 people in that five-year span. But when the data gets broken down, it tells a story that may combat conventional wisdom. Despite a booming tech industry and a reputation for drawing millennials, the fastest growing age group was ages 65 to 74, the study said. The only city in the top 10 with a fastest growing age group lower than 50 was Tampa at ages 25 to 34. The study was careful to point out the top 10 was reserved for large cities, and in its methodology that was defined as 350,000 people or more in a city. Earlier this past month, SeattlePI published a study that stated Seattle wasn't the fastest growing overall city in Washington - in fact, it wasn't even in the top 10 of that study. Kirkland grabbed the top spot as it had a growth rate of 84.7% since 2010. Washington as a whole was one of the only states to have a positive growth.