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October 2019

News In Brief

October 7, 2019

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Seattle was ranked No. 1 by researchers at WalletHub, who compared 100 cities across 17 key metrics to determine the best city for public transportation. Data sets included share of commuters who use public transit and average age of the fleet to number of injuries and peak hours spent in congestion, to name two. Among the metrics measured, Seattle finished with Top 10 rankings in shortest average commute time by public transportation (3rd), fewest public transit injuries (8th), share of commuters who use public transit (9th) and 9th in total public transit vehicles operating at full capacity. In overall categories, Seattle ranked 7th in Accessibility and Convenience, 6th in Safety and Reliability and 3rd in Public Transit Resources. But combine all the scores and Seattle was No. 1. Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC and Madison rounded out the Top 5. Portland came in 10th. The worst city on the list? Indianapolis, with St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida rounding out the bottom 3 by a wide margin.



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The number of people forced to spend at least 90 minutes each way commuting to work has boomed in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area over the last decade, according to a recently-released study. A county-by-county breakdown of super commutes by Apartment List has found that 50% more people were grinding out long rides in King County compared to 2009. Pierce County saw an increase of 55% and Snohomish County's super commute number jumped by 44% over that time. Combined, the counties had roughly 55,000 workers spending three hours or more round trip just getting to the office. The numbers - which originate from the U.S. Census Bureau - reflect nearly 5% of the workforce in Pierce County, but only about 2% in King County and 3.7% in Snohomish. Kitsap County had the highest percentage of Washington super commuters in the workforce, with 7. 5% making the long haul by ferry as of 2017. As you may be able to tell from the numbers, the super commuters are not just strung out on roads and freeways, but using all forms of transportation, including ferries.



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Seattle ranks among the top 20 most "fun" cities in the United States, according to the findings of a new study. The study, by personal finance website WalletHub, compared the nation's most populous 182 cities and found that Seattle ranks No. 17 when it comes to having fun. The rankings were based on 65 different criteria in areas such as entertainment, recreation, nightlife, parties and costs. And each city's reputation for fun is economically important, because the average American spends nearly $3,000 on entertainment each year, the study found. Seattle ranked well above average in several categories, including festivals per capita (No. 8 in the nation), restaurants per capita (No. 9), fitness centers per capita (No. 8), bar accessibility (No. 10) and number of attractions (No. 9). In fact, Seattle would have ranked higher than 17th in the overall rankings except for one factor - the high cost of having fun here dragged down the city's score. According to the study, Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. for fun and recreation. In fact, the average beer price in Seattle is second-highest in the nation, behind only New York City. The top five cities in the nation for having fun, according to the study, are Las Vegas, Nev.; Orlando, Fla.; New York, N.Y.; Miami, Fla.; and Chicago, Ill. The five least fun cities in America? According to the study, they are Pearl City, Hawaii; Oxnard, Calif.; Yonkers, N.Y.; Santa Rosa, Calif.; and Bridgeport, Conn.



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An updated forecast shows Washington state is expected to see a net increase in revenues of nearly $447 million through mid-2021, according to KOMO News. The numbers released at a Wednesday meeting of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council showed total revenues are now projected at more than $51.4 billion for the current two-year state budget cycle, which started in July. The state is projected to have $3.1 billion in total reserves at the end of the current biennium. The next revenue forecast will be released Nov. 20. In December, Gov. Jay Inslee will release his 2020 supplemental budget proposal ahead of the 60-day legislative session that is set to begin. Jan. 13.



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People who bought homes in the Puget Sound region at the bottom of the housing market in 2012 have earned billions of dollars in home equity since then, with Tacoma leading the nation in percentage increase and Seattle coming in at No. 2 in the country in total dollar increase. The eye-popping figures are contained in a new report released by real estate brokerage Redfin, which measured the increase in home equity (the value of the home minus the amount still owed in mortgage payments) in cities across the U.S.

Nationwide, the increase in home equity since 2012 amounts to a staggering $203 billion, according to the report. The typical U.S. homebuyer started off with $54,000 in home equity in 2012 and has $195,000 today. In Seattle, the study found that the average person who bought a home in 2012 has gained $364,000 in home equity - an increase of 461 percent. The total rise in home equity in the Seattle area since 2012 amounts to $8.01 billion - the second-highest dollar increase in the nation behind Los Angeles.

But when it comes to the percentage of home equity increase, no city in the nation could top Tacoma. The report found that those who bought a home in Tacoma in 2012 have earned a stunning 1,453 percent increase in home equity.