- World’s richest person, Jeff Bezos.
- Amazon tops $500 billion market capitalization.
- More cranes in Seattle than any other U.S. city. 50% more than L.A., which has six times the area.
- More open software jobs in Seattle than in Silicon Valley, which has many, many more employers and people.
- Housing prices are at a faster growth rate here by far than anywhere else in the country.
It’s…a little overheated. And it’s not slowing down. It’s not even a bubble per se. We have rapidly growing companies sucking in employees as fast as they can. Our unemployment rate is well below 4% in Seattle, far lower among white-collar and technical jobs.
We have relatively little land on which to build office buildings, and they’re filling up like mad. The scarcity increases prices. We’ve long been a city without enough density for the future and loads of single-family dwellings, no good plan for affordable housing (changing slowly), and land-use plans that discouraged the kind of buildout we needed. Nobody wanted it in their backyards. The pressure has caused changes that mean we have massive amounts of construction happening simultaneously because the demand is so high for everything.
Thank goodness we funded light-rail finally a number of years ago and approved and built more streetcar lines with more to come. While that represents just a portion of all commuting, it’s going to be every more critical as driving gridlock sets in. I’ve had to drive in and out of downtown Seattle during evening rush hour for my designer in residence position at the School of Visual Concepts — a place caught in the pincers between two rapidly expanding areas — and it feels a lot more like Los Angeles rush hour (which I’ve been in several times in the last several years) than Seattle.
Where does this all end?