“With more cranes by far than any city in the United States, Seattle is transforming by the day.” That was at the top of the invite to an interesting event we attended last week: The Seattle Commercial Real Estate Expo 2017, hosted by the Puget Sound Business Journal. While there was much food for thought at this event, the most interesting comments, we thought, were by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist at Windermere:
***Seattle’s economy is firing on 11.5 cylinders, it would be 12 if not for aerospace
***Wage growth in Seattle is at 4%
***Unemployment in King County is at 3%
***Amazon has leased 12 million square feet of office space
***1,000 people are moving to Seattle every week.
The running joke of the morning was how many times Gardner uttered the word “Amazon.” At least 22 times, give or take, in 15 minutes, according to the event’s host.
While Gardner made it clear that Amazon is driving much of Seattle’s growth, other companies are expanding in the city and leasing large amounts of office space. There is a lot of interest from firms in places like San Francisco, where CEOs have said they are hesitant to move some of their operations to Seattle because all their employees might then want to move here! Gardner shared that 13% of San Francisco residents can afford to buy a house there vs. 42% of Seattle residents.
So how long will the Seattle boom last? Gardner thinks we’re in the “7th inning” of the current market cycle. He expects that we’ll enter a recession — caused by an outside shock of some kind — in early 2019. The silver lining, according to Gardner: the recession is likely to be “shallow.”
Don’t expect the cranes dotting Seattle’s skyline to disappear anytime soon. As we look ahead to the next 50 years, the current “Seattle boom” could be a major driver of what our region looks like in 2067. What do you think?
Tell us what ideas, institutions and individuals you think will shape the next 50 years of the Pacific Northwest. Enter a comment below, email us or join us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Make sure to tag your social media posts with #Future50NW so we can collect all your stories in one place.