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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gas Prices Linked To Housing Patterns?

Considering how much gasoline has surged in price in the last few years, it's no surprise that so many people are talking about it. But will rising gas costs really have an effect on where people choose to live? Are the outlying suburbs of the Seattle area—currently experiencing record growth—in for falling prices if the cost of gasoline continues to climb? A writer for the Seattle P-I ponders these and similar questions:

During the past year, the Consumer Price Index, the most popular measure of inflation, rose by 3.5 percent in the Puget Sound region, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gasoline and utility natural gas prices jumped 35.1 percent and 17.2 percent, catching area residents on the road and in their homes with higher prices.

That could have some interesting consequences for the region, from commuting patterns to the staffing of local businesses.
As steady double-digit home price increases push home buyers farther from city centers in search of affordable housing, the ability of Seattle's middle- to low-income workers to get here, and get by, is being compromised.
The article focuses primarily on inflation, pointing out that prices in the Seattle area are growing slightly slower than the rest of the nation. However, gas prices accounted for an unusually large portion of the total figure for inflation. Surely if gasoline cost $10 per gallon a large number of people would rethink the hour-long commute to work. At what point will enough people change their patterns for it to be noticeable though?

(Kristen Millares Bolt, Seattle P-I, 11.17.2005)

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