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Jon Talton

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

December 31, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Some numbers to watch in 2015

On Sunday, I wrote about economic markers for the Puget Sound region in the new year. For those who want to geek out, here are some numbers that provide a baseline for performance in 2015:

81,099, the total Boeing employment in Washington at the end of 2014. Although the company is bullish on growth prospects, the job count here is down nearly 5,400 from its 2012-13 peak.

170.39, the October number for metro Seattle on the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. It remains below the peak of 192.14 in August 2007 but is much improved from the trough of 130.03 in January 2012. The Seattle real-estate market is expected to remain among the nation’s hottest in 2015. Could somebody build towers with something other than boring glass sheets?

$311.59 — where a share of Amazon stock was trading Wednesday. The company, the backbone of growth in the city of Seattle, is under pressure from Wall Street to show profits for investors. Shares traded at $396 at the beginning of this year.

6.2 percent was Washington’s unemployment rate as of November, higher than the national average. While at least some of its rise is because of more people entering the workforce, continued job creation will be essential to bringing it down in 2015.

7.3 percent, the November unemployment rate in Pierce County. That compared with 4.4 percent in King County and .4.8 percent in Snohomish County. Until the Tacoma-area economy improves, it will be a drag on the region’s performance.

$81.6 billion. That was the total of merchandise trade exports from Washington to the world in 2013. Next year we’ll get the 2014 totals. They were doing well as of mid-year, but are facing headwinds from the slowdown in Asia, especially China.

2.8 percent. We learned this year that this was Seattle’s population increase from July 2012 to July 2013, making it the fastest-growing major city. Don’t worry. Seattle isn’t adding the ruinous numbers of a Sun Belt city. Ours for the period totaled 18,000 vs. “slow growth” in Houston of 137,782. It is a sign of a healthy economy drawing talent and the “back-to-the-city” movement.

$60,106 was the median household income in the state last year, adjusted for inflation. Although well above the national average, it is below the peak of more than $67,000 in 1998. In real terms, the median household here is making what it did in 1988. If the economy keeps growing and adding jobs, it might finally move the number up.

• 9.3 percent. This is the increase in container volume at the Port of Tacoma through November, in spite of a slowdown because of labor discord. Tacoma and the Port of Seattle will be announcing details of their seaport alliance next year. One key goal will be to increase overall container market share for the two ports, which has been falling in recent years.

One. The number of Beefeater martinis, straight up with olives, stirred not shaken, I will drink on New Year’s Eve. Friends don’t let friends write drunk. Happy New Year.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Stocks were hot this year

Unemployment was way down

That damned Obama


Comments | More in | Topics: Seattle economy, Washington economy


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