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June 2021

News In Brief

June 7, 2021

  • When you go through the security line at the airport, unless you're in pre-check, you know the drill. Take off your shoes and put them back on. But that could be a thing of the past soon, thanks to new shoe scanning technology developed by researchers at a Washington state-based research lab. Removing your shoes at the airport has only been part of the flying experience since 2006, following multiple threats after 9/11. Now, researchers with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, who created holographic millimeter scanning technology to detect threats under clothing, has made it possible through shoes. The millimeter wave shoe scanner has been in the works since 2013. PNNL researchers say it is more accurate at detecting threats than current systems. This new technology could speed up the screening process by about 20% and eliminate the hassle of taking off shoes and putting them back on, researchers say. Any decisions to use this system in U.S. airports will be made by the Transportation Security Administration

  • As most businesses continue to return to normal operations and vaccine availability becomes more widespread, Seattle and Washington state are lagging behind the rest of the nation in the return to full employment, according to a new study. The study, by payroll servicing site Paychex, shows Washington ranks last, behind all other states, in jobs growth. The city of Seattle also ranks last among U.S. metros in jobs growth. For wages as well, Seattle's hourly earnings growth is weakest among regions, slowing below 1% in April. Experts compared employment gains, wages and how operations are resuming among all four U.S. regions. The southern states lead all regions with the highest job growth, specifically Texas and Florida. Tampa, Dallas and Phoenix lead in job growth among metro cities. The data shows medium and small businesses in Seattle are having a hard time finding people to work for them, for various reasons.

  • With real-estate inventory down by more than half compared to last year, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2021's Best Places to Be a Real Estate Agent, as well as accompanying videos. To determine the best markets for real-estate agents, WalletHub compared more than 170 U.S. cities across 22 key indicators of a healthy housing market, ranging from sales per agent to the annual median wage for real-estate agents to the housing-market health index.

    Best Places to Be a Real Estate Agent

    1. Seattle, WA
    2. Pearl City, HI
    3. Sacramento, CA
    4. Salt Lake City, UT
    5. Denver, CO
    6. Nashville, TN
    7. Washington, DC
    8. Huntsville, AL
    9. Austin, TX
    10. San Jose, CA
    11. Vancouver, WA
    12. Reno, NV
    13. West Valley City, UT
    14. Billings, MT
    15. Portland, ME
    16. Portland, OR
    17. San Diego, CA
    18. Atlanta, GA
    19. Boston, MA
    20. Irvine, CA

  • The new Regional Homelessness Authority (RHA) got its first budget approval just as a group of business executives suggest helping the chronically homeless should be the region's top priority. The Governing Board of the RHA unanimously approved the $2.3 million requested by CEO Marc Dones. The money will cover the administrative cost to get the RHA up and running for the remainder of 2021. The authority will start assuming the contracts in September. Twenty-three service providers should be fully operational during the 2022 year with at an administrative staff of 35 people. The vote comes at the same time a report on chronic homelessness was released by Challenge Seattle, an alliance of CEO's of 21 of the region's largest employers. The report said 73 percent of the counties chronically homeless have serious psychiatric and emotional conditions compared to four percent of the county's population. The report indicated 64 percent have a substance use disorder compared to five percent of the county population with the same issue. Challenge Seattle made six recommendations, including an argument on why helping the chronically homeless is a humane and smart direction to go. A report recommends following a command center model the cities of Bakersfield and San Diego have adopted to handle the chronically homeless.

  • Washington state is the best place in the U.S. for millennials, that generation of Americans now in their mid-20s to early 40s who make up the largest segment of the population. That's according to a new study by the personal finance site WalletHub. With a population of around 80 million, millennials have a huge influence on American culture and consumption. Yet despite millennials' trillion-dollar purchasing power and higher educational attainment, they are economically worse off than their parents due to the after-effects of the Great Recession and the COVID pandemic. But the millennial experience is not the same everywhere. WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 34 key metrics to determine where this generation has thrived and struggled, ranging from share of millennials to millennial unemployment rate to millennial voter-turnout rate. For the purpose of this study, "millennials" were defined as individuals who were born between 1981 and 1996. According to the study, Washington state had the highest overall score when the metrics were tallied and compared with other states. In individual areas, Washington state also ranked No. 1 for millennial affordability, No. 2 for millennials' economic health and No. 3 for highest average earnings for millennials. But the Evergreen State was outranked by other states in some areas, such as education and health (15th place), and civic engagement (11th place). Rounding out the top five places for millennials were Washington, D.C. (No. 2), Utah (No. 3), Massachusetts (No. 4) and Iowa (No. 5). Oregon ranked in 15th place and Idaho came in at 25th place, according to the study. The worst five states for millennials, the study found, were West Virginia, New Mexico, Mississippi, Nevada and Louisiana.

  • New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, Seattle had a net gain of about 16,400 residents, hitting a total population of 769,700. That pencils out to a growth rate of 2.2% last year. And that means that among the 50 biggest U.S. cities, Seattle is - No. 1 for growth in 2020. What about all those Sunbelt cities that everyone has been flocking to during the pandemic? Sure, they're growing fast, but they were behind Seattle. Fort Worth, Texas, ranks No. 2, followed by Mesa, Arizona; Austin; and Tampa. Seattle's 2020 growth was actually pretty much in line with the numbers we saw back in the 2010s - and Seattle was also the fastest-growing city of the past decade. It doesn't match our fastest growth rate, which exceeded 3%. But last year's 2.2% actually beat out the rate of growth between 2018 and 2019, which was 1.4%.