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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

Topic: Seattle

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December 20, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Census surprise: Seattle the most affordable big city for renters

Units at the new Nolo Apartments in Pioneer Square average $2,200 per month

High rents in Pioneer Square: Units at the new Nolo Apartments average $2,200 per month (Photo: Nolo Apartments)

How bad is the plight of the Seattle renter?

As reported in The Seattle Times, spiking rents have forced many tenants out of their neighborhoods, or out of the city altogether.

But as dire as the rental situation is here, new data suggest that it could be much worse.   In fact, according to a commonly-used indicator of affordability, renters in Seattle are faring better than those in any other major U.S. city.

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0 Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: Census, Renters, Seattle

February 28, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Is Seattle the country’s most dressed-down city?

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Jeans on a job interview?  Birkenstocks to Benaroya Hall?  Shorts at the office?  No problem.  This is Seattle, after all.  When it comes to clothing, the concept of “too casual” doesn’t seem to exist here.

If you’ve lived in this city for any length of time, you know what I’m talking about.   Seattleites insist on being comfortable, no matter the occasion.

Have you ever wondered if Seattle could be the country’s most dressed-down city?

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0 Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: clothing, Seattle, shopping

February 22, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Is your neighborhood one of Seattle’s cycling hot spots?

Photo: Commute Seattle

The Commute Seattle survey results released last week found that 3 percent of Seattleites bike to work.  While that might not sound like much, it is actually one of the highest bicycle commuter rates in the nation — and it pencils out to more than 11,000 folks riding to work every day.

Also keep in mind that 3 percent is a citywide average.  So naturally, some areas of Seattle outperform that number, while others lag behind.  But which ones?  Which neighborhoods stand out as cycling hot spots, and by how much?  And which neighborhoods have the lowest rates of bike commuters?

To find out, I analyzed 2012 bike commuting estimates from data provider Experian.  I used this data to create a neighborhood-by-neighborhood map of Seattle’s cycling landscape.  On the map, each color-coded circle represents a city neighborhood.   Mouse over the circle to see the neighborhood name and the percent of bike commuters who live there.   Neighborhoods with orange and red dots exceed the 3 percent city bike commuting average.  Neighborhoods with a yellow and green dot are below, or exactly at, the city average.

Where does your neighborhood rank?  Is it closer to University Heights, where nearly 1 in 10 workers are pedal-powered?  Or more like Pioneer Square, where nobody rides?

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0 Comments | More in Government Data, Market Research | Topics: Cycling, Seattle

February 13, 2013 at 7:30 AM

In Seattle, does true romance start with a one-night stand?

(Photo: Nafflicious/Wikimedia)

According to a recent Harris poll, 19 percent of Americans would rather have a root canal than be single on Valentine’s Day.  That’s a little hard to believe.  It’s true, though, that this holiday — silly as it may be — does make some single people feel painfully aware of their singleness. But take heart (no pun intended): you might be single, but you’re hardly alone. There are more than 100 million unmarried adults in the United States, including 1.3 million right here in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area.

Right now is, in fact, the perfect time to celebrate singletons.  Feb. 14 isn’t just Valentine’s Day — it’s also Singles Awareness Day.  At least according to Wikipedia.  So in the spirit of the day, let’s delve into some new data on Seattle-area singles.

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0 Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: dating, Seattle, sex

January 22, 2013 at 6:30 AM

What are Seattle’s most — and least — vegetarian neighborhoods?

Mighty-O Donuts in Wallingford (Photo: Gene Balk/The Seattle Times)

Are you a vegetarian or vegan?  Or perhaps pescetarian, flexitarian, or pollotarian?

In Seattle, alternative diets hardly seem alternative any more.  And as many Seattleites have given up or reduced their meat consumption, local restaurants and other food sellers have responded to the demand. Meat-free eating options abound here, and Seattle is often ranked among the country’s best cities for vegetarians and vegans.

While we don’t know the exact number, it’s a safe bet that this city has one of the largest vegetarian and vegan populations in the U.S. But where in Seattle are they most heavily concentrated?   Which neighborhood takes top honors as Seattle’s most vegetarian?

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0 Comments | More in Demographics, Government Data | Topics: diet, food, Seattle

December 31, 2012 at 6:05 AM

Cigarette city: What are Seattle’s smokiest neighborhoods?

Georgetown is No. 1 (Photo: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons)

Where there’s smoke, there’s … hipsters?

In Seattle, it seems so.  Analysis of consumer spending data reveals that some of the city’s funkiest neighborhoods are also the ones whose residents smoke the most cigarettes. And Georgetown — that crumbling enclave of artists and bohemians just north of Boeing Field — is the smokiest neighborhood of all.  Even though incomes in Georgetown are well below the city average, that doesn’t stop folks there from puffing away more of their paychecks than anybody else in town.  The per capita spending on cigarettes and other tobacco products in Georgetown is the highest in the city — 17 percent above the Seattle average. When Georgetowners run low on cash, the art supplies can wait, but not that pack of American Spirits.

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0 Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: health, Seattle, smoking

December 18, 2012 at 6:45 AM

What are Seattle’s least likely places to spot wedding bands?

Poster from the 1992 Seattle-based film “Singles”

Singles, here’s a question for you: is Seattle a hard town to meet someone?

Demographically speaking, it shouldn’t be that bad.  Of America’s 50 largest cities, Seattle has the 16th highest percentage of singles, according to the most recent Census Bureau estimates.  In fact, single folks are the majority of the city’s population — 55 percent of Seattle adults are single.

So yes, they’re out there.  But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to meet.

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0 Comments | More in Demographics, Market Research | Topics: dating, marital status, Seattle

December 5, 2012 at 12:00 PM

In ‘war on cars,’ Seattle has some catching up to do

Traffic on Ballard Bridge, Seattle (photo: ComputerGuy890100 via Wikimedia Commons)

I hadn’t realized that the so-called war on cars was a “Seattle thing” until I heard a broadcast about it on NPR earlier this year.  Although the war on cars controversy has popped up in cities around North America, Seattle is one of just four — along with Chicago, Toronto and Boston — where the phrase gets tossed about with frequency, according to NPR. Indeed, when I Googled “war on cars,” the top results were dominated by links to Seattle-area publications. As NPR reported, “In Seattle, the phrase has been aimed at all kinds of city plans, including lower speed limits in residential areas.”  Yes, in Seattle, even imposing lower speed limits in residential areas can be construed as part of a war on cars.  You might say folks are a little touchy about this topic here.

Our local war on cars saw a minor skirmish earlier this week when the City Council approved a second car-sharing program, Car2Go.  Zipcar will have some competition soon.  Councilmember Tom Rasmussen threw down the gauntlet, as quoted by Lynn Thompson in The Seattle Times:”This is another great transportation option for people who would prefer not to own a car or want to get rid of a second car.” If there’s really a war on cars in Seattle — then them’s fightin’ words.

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0 Comments | More in Demographics | Topics: Seattle, transportation

November 12, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Is Seattle one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.?

What are you paying for a haircut in Seattle? (Photo: Gene Balk/The Seattle Times)

I recently got my hair cut at the same place that I always go to on Capitol Hill (same place everyone goes to, judging by the line).  I got a standard haircut, same as always.  But did it always cost $29?  I don’t remember it being that expensive.

After my sticker shock, it didn’t surprise me all that much to come across this peculiar statistic in the newly-released Cost of Living Index: Seattle ranks second out of 304 U.S. cities for the cost of a haircut.  A barbershop cut in Seattle costs, on average, even more than it does in Manhattan — it’s 66 percent more expensive here than the average for U.S. cities.

Weird, huh?  But after looking over all the data on consumer costs in the report, I think Seattle haircuts are just an outlier.  Out of 57 goods and services — everything from home prices and doctors visits to movie tickets and dry cleaning — a haircut is Seattle’s only Top 5 item.

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0 Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: Cost of living, Seattle

October 31, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Is Seattle the country’s worst-dressed city?

The Teva high-heel in black — perfect formal footwear for Seattle? (photo: Gray Ant/Teva)

Last week I attended the Seattle Opera’s production of Beethoven’s Fidelio.  The singing was beautiful, of course, but that’s not what inspired this blog post.  It was the clothing.  The audience’s clothing.

Suffice it say that Tevas, jeans and polo shirts are still acceptable attire for a night at the opera in Seattle; not much has changed in the four years since Pam Sitt wrote this article on the subject in The Seattle Times.

It’s a long-standing complaint that Seattleites don’t care how they dress, don’t buy new clothes, and even take a perverse pride in their frumpiness — we’re into books here, not clothes.

But is it true?  Do we really have no interest in clothes in Seattle?  And can data help us find an answer?

Not sure, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

I devised a simple measure — an index — to gauge the fashion priorities of Seattleites in relation to people in other cities.  I’ll call it the Shoppers Index.  

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0 Comments | More in Market Research | Topics: Seattle, shopping

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