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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

September 19, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Does Seattle feel richer this year than last?

Soruce: U.S. Census Bureau

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

If you live in Seattle, chances are your income went up last year. The city’s median household income climbed to $67,479 – a 1.7 percent increase compared with $66,345 in 2012 and 16 percent higher compared with $57,849 in 2007, according to the U.S. Census.

The 2013 figure also puts Seattle in fifth place for median household income among the nation’s 25 biggest cities and 29 percent above the national median income of $52,250. The only cities that beat us are Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston and Baltimore. Not bad, Seattle.

Statewide, median household income basically stayed flat at $58,405 for 2013, but Washington had the 14th highest median of all 50 states and is about 12 percent higher than the national median.

Rising household incomes should indicate that people have more money in their pocketbooks to save, spend or invest. The rise should also suggest that it’s possible to land a better job, increase personal wealth and provide more for your family. For me, the American Dream isn’t to own your own home or business, but to have the ability to advance socioeconomically. I use the term ability because individuals have to make their own decisions about what they want to do for a living or where they want to live, so what matters most is having choices and opportunities. Based on the census data, Seattle is a place where those kinds of options are growing.

At the same time, it’s questionable whether a 1.7 percent increase in one year can be considered real progress for a city where apartment rents leaped 11 percent in 2013. Also, the rise in household income is expected during an economic recovery and when job growth is booming. Besides housing costs going up, other costs can go up and the gap between rich and poor often widens versus having a tide-raises-all-boats effect.

What do you think, readers? Does Seattle feel wealthier? Do you feel wealthier? Who is getting richer and who is getting poorer?

Comments | Topics: household income, jobs, Seattle

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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


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