Top 10 Economic Drivers of Puget Sound
The Top 10 Economic Drivers of Puget Sound
By Brian Evans
Owner, Madrona Financial Services
The Puget Sound area is thriving, and business is booming. As one of the fastest growing economic regions in the nation, it is no wonder that it generates so much buzz. To understand the appeal of the area, one must first understand the underlying driving factors behind it. Listed below are ten economic drivers that together, give validation to the Puget Sound area as one both economically sound and poised for even further growth.
1. Tech Giants Call Seattle Home
With Microsoft’s move to Bellevue in 1979, Puget Sound experienced booms associated with Microsoft’s meteoric rise as the pioneer of the computer as we know it today. Microsoft currently employs over 46,000 people in its Redmond, Bellevue, and Seattle offices. Furthermore, Amazon is a key player in Seattle, and asserts its prominence within the city by providing thousands of tech jobs, with many more expected with the completion of its sprawling downtown campus. Jobs added by these anchor companies are high-paying technology jobs, and consequently attract high talent that will undoubtedly continue to stimulate the economy.
2. Seattle is Becoming a Technopolis
Seattle is becoming the new Silicon Valley. Offering competitive salaries and lower costs of living, the city attracts companies and talent to the region, spurring economic growth in innovative industries. Over the past year, more people have moved to Seattle than to any other place in the country, with many workers moving in from San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. As a magnet for tech talent, Seattle may expect to see this sector continue to expand its presence within the city.
3. Real Estate is Cheaper than San Francisco
The median price of a home in San Francisco is a whopping $1.5 million. In Seattle, that number is $730,000. Wanting to avoid these exorbitant costs of living, both companies and workers alike have begun to see the draw of living in Seattle. Coupled with Washington’s zero-percent income tax, the numbers illustrate a clear rationale for the technology industry making its gravitation towards Seattle.
4. Burgeoning Real Estate Markets
Compared with a year ago, home prices in Seattle have increased more than any other location in the country. Increases in the number of high-paying jobs, most notably in the tech industry, has opened the door to a thriving real estate market that is poised to add economic value by meeting this increasing demand.
5. Educated Workforce
54% of Seattle’s workforce holds bachelor’s degrees or higher, a rate proving to be one of the highest in the country. An educated workforce is the backbone of a productive and innovative economy, and Seattle is certainly no small player in this respect.
6. Educational Opportunities
King County houses eleven universities and colleges, and its flagship, the University of Washington, boasts one of the nation’s top medical and computer science programs. Its acclaimed Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering serves as a talent pipeline for many local companies, and attracts bright students who end up as bright workers.
7. Strong Employment Opportunities
Technology growth in Puget Sound may steal headlines, but there are certainly many jobs to offer outside of tech. Seattle may not be the “Jet City” it once was, but Boeing today employs over 65,000 employees in the region, supply ample employment and exports to the world.
8. Appeal to Millennials
Seattle is a progressive city. With its socially-conscious, forward-thinking, and environmentally-aware culture, the city aligns smoothly with the values of millennials. The social ideals of Seattle are a draw for progressive millennials, and may encourage future economic growth in the city as this generation eventually dominates the workforce.
9. Entrepreneurial Spirit
Zillow, Expedia, and f5 Networks are prominent today, but these Seattle-based companies had their starts as but a few of the many Seattle startups. The city loves to innovate, and an entrepreneurial culture has permeated and yielded the result of a plethora of emerging companies. We may fully expect the coffee-loving Seattleites to continue their innovation that has already proven big results.
10. Network Effects
As Puget Sound companies expand their presence, their success will draw additional businesses to the region. The network effects of a city anchored by mega-companies by the likes of Microsoft and Amazon are derived from the fact that their presence will further increase the pool of companies who wish to do business with, collaborate, and share space with the establishment. Puget Sound’s prominence as a tech powerhouse has already given life to the region, and will certainly continue to provide opportunities in industry, expansion, and economic progress.