If I were to ask you how you’d characterize Seattle these days, you’d probably talk about the booming economy, the skyline full of cranes, the resulting bad traffic, the short supply of affordable housing, and the issue of homelessness.
I’m preaching to the choir now, but you know these things – good and bad – are probably going to stick around for years to come if Silicon Valley’s path is the one we’re carving out. Their median home price is over $7mm and we’re running up fast behind them with Capitol Hill and the Eastside growing to a median $1mm. This at a growth rate of twice the rate of the rest of the country.
This is also true for the Pacific Northwest region as a whole. We continue to attract thousands of people each month, and yet our unemployment rate has stayed at record lows of around 4.5 percent, particularly in the Seattle-Bellevue areas where it has been below 3.7 percent, according to a recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics report (PDF).
We’ve had several straight years of extraordinary growth, with the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council estimating that the number of new jobs in Washington grew by 3 percent in 2017 alone. So, what is the outlook for job seekers in 2018, and what industries are doing the best? The good news is that we should continue to see new jobs added over the next couple of years in tech, retail and hospitality, albeit at a slightly slower pace than 2017.
Backing up these findings is the Washington State Employment Security Department, which tracks job numbers in 13 industry sectors here in the state. It found that for the year from November 2016 through November 2017, 12 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added employees. The only sector to report losses was manufacturing, which was down 1,500 jobs during that period.
Many of our NTNW members are involved in the tech industry, which the ESD typically classifies under its ‘computer and mathematical’ category. This includes people with expertise in areas such as data analytics, software development, cybersecurity and cloud computing. In this area, we can expect 4 percent growth, or upwards of 7,000 new jobs created over the course of the year.
Nobody has a crystal ball, of course, but this kind of data bodes very well for students and job seekers over the next couple of years. It signifies a great level of confidence and investment in our region, which will have positive ripple effects throughout our communities.