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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 10, 2010 at 9:40 AM

Inside the lost decade: Even fortunate Seattle barely gained traction

Here’s your lost decade. Median household income in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area rose to $66,995 in 2008 from $66,881 in 2000, according to the latest Brookings Institution State of Metropolitan America report. Among blacks, income actually dropped to $39,748 vs. $46,738 in 2000. Hispanics also lost ground. High-tech workers far outpaced other occupations in earnings power. And all this was before the Great Recession hit.

And this is relative strong performance compared with other American metros. For example, Phoenix, a metro area slightly larger than ours, saw its median income fall to $56,389 from $57,889. “The typical American household saw its inflation-adjusted income decline by more than $2,000 between 1999 and 2008 — and probably even further by 2009 when the economy his bottom,” the report states.

The report, an exhaustive analysis of Census data, sees income polarization as one of the five new realities facing American metropolitan areas, where 66 percent of the population live and most of the nation’s economic power is concentrated. Others: growing and outward expansion; aging population; uneven educational attainment and a much more diverse population. Another interesting finding: Younger, educated people are choosing to live in cities, leaving suburbs more likely to have aging and with rising minority and poor populations.

You can check an interactive map of the data here, and download the entire report here.

The Back Story: I’ll withhold judgment on the markets, which were up 400 points this morning on the Greek rescue package engineered by the European Union (and a credit line from the Fed). Greed and fear: Today’s it’s greed and a little relief. But recent financial crises have a way of never staying put, rather like horror king Michael Myers.

The plunge last week did expose whole new layers of risk and danger. One is the increasing complexity of trading systems; another is the accelerant provided by computerized trading, yet how at the height of the crash many program traders who aren’t market makers backed away, leaving nobody on the other end of transactions. It would be like the Three Stooges directed by Oliver Stone — if only your nest egg wasn’t at stake.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

We see now BP

Doesn’t stand for “Backup Plan”

We’ll pay at the pump

Comments | More in Demographics, Income/living standards, Jobs/Unemployment, Stock market

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