Seattle dodged the bullet on Friday night. You know which one. It marks a defining moment in many ways, and not all of them good. The alternative was worse. Now, six days into 2014, what other guns are to our heads?
1. A new CEO at Microsoft. Here’s another big unknown facing another of the region’s prime economic clusters. I am skeptical of the imperial CEO model, especially one where he or she starts laying off people and spinning off units to please Wall Street. Microsoft needs vision, a bias for action, someone to fix the bureaucracy — and listen to the employees. His or her actions will resonate for years here.
2. Ed Murray needs a successful start as mayor. Many of the economic aspects of this are found in a Seattle Met article. They include growing business in the city, bridging the divide with the Legislature on critical urban infrastructure issues, tackling street civility and leveraging the city’s prosperity to ensure livability and a national model for sustainable growth.
3. The minimum wage. Activists are pushing to make 2014 the year of the $15-per-hour minimum wage in Seattle. The battle can be constructive or destructive. It can also be a distraction, however well intended, from discussing the larger issues that are forcing so many people into low-wage jobs and removing rungs in the ladder up.
4. The ports. We still don’t have a solution to the unhealthy competition between the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma. Overall market share of the Puget Sound ports is not growing and big changes are looming, none favorable to us. We can’t merely hope that the wider Panama Canal is delayed.
5. Growth and jobs. Nearly everybody seems to be saying the economy will take off this year. Although I want to be wrong, I don’t see the fundamentals behind it. Seattle has been a fortunate outlier in actually recovering in this recovery. But plenty of people remain unemployed in the Pacific Northwest. Their suffering is being made worse by congressional cuts. The overall economy remains fragile, and that means Seattle’s new boom can’t be taken for granted.
This is only a start. Add your own priorities in the comments section (beyond “hire a real economics columnist at the Seattle Times”).
And Don’t Miss: Trends in the distribution of household income between 1979 and 2007 | The Big Picture
Today’s Econ Haiku:
That was a close one
Will it be a win all ’round?
Or a new PATCO?
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