Considering that today is a big holiday and all, hopefully most of my readers are out doing fun things with family and friends, not glued to a computer monitor like... um... I am right now. There are a lot of good stories to talk about, but due to the holiday I'm going to restrict myself to just one post today, about a story that came out over the weekend.
Yes, I've seen that Mr. Wharton has posted the grand culmination of his "there is no bubble" analysis. Given the depth and care of his analysis, it deserves more than a "summarize the linked article" type of post. I'm working on a mildly in-depth response, but it's not ready yet, and I'm taking today off because it's a holiday, dang it. I have also seen the story in the Olympian about young couples sacrificing themselves and their finances to the god of the mortgage. I'll probably have a post dedicated to that one tomorrow. If those of you who are reading today could hold off your discussion on those topics until later this week, that'd be great.
So here's the article I am going to post today. As many of you probably saw over the weekend, Washington's population has grown by about 120,000 people in the last year.
Booming King County cities have contributed to Washington's population surge in the past year. The state population has increased by 120,000, pushing the total to nearly 6.4 million, and more in-migration is expected as the state economy continues to pump out new jobs.When this article was pointed out in the comments over the weekend, one commenter suggested that "More jobs = more $ = higher housing prices." I actually agree with that basic formula. Here's the thing, though. The state as a whole gained 120,000 people. Obviously some of those were from births. According to the article, "in-migration accounted for 81,000 of the new 120,000 Washington residents," and obviously even some of those who migrated here were children, so let's actually assume that the number of employable adults that moved to Washington is roughly equal to the 77,000 new jobs that were added in the last year. Okay, good.
While Snoqualmie was far and away the fastest-growing city in the state the past six years — with a 379 percent population jump — Issaquah (74.5 percent) and Maple Valley (34.7) ranked second and third among King County cities. Nearly a third of Issaquah's growth was driven by annexations, while Snoqualmie's population skyrocketed with construction of thousands of homes in the massive Snoqualmie Ridge urban village project.
"It will slow down in the next three or four years," said Anthony Hemstad, Maple Valley's city manager. "We are rapidly using up our buildable land. In future years, more of the growth will be retail and commercial rather than residential."
Washington's employment has been growing twice as fast as the national average and is proving to be a magnet for strong population growth, said Theresa Lowe, the state's chief population expert.
If the trend continues, Washington will grow to 6.8 million people by 2010 — an increase of 1 million over the course of this decade.
"As always, continued growth depends on how Washington's employment opportunities stack up against what other states have to offer," Lowe said in a report released by the governor's budget office.
Washington added 77,000 jobs last year and is on track to produce another 95,000 this year, the Office of Financial Management said.
So really if you're going to take something economy-related away from this article about Washington's population, it's the 77,000 new jobs. I could repeat myself, but it gets tiring after a while, so I'm just going to point out that I've already posted my thesis on the job situation. Nearly 30% of those 77,000 new jobs were in construction and real estate. So when housing starts to significantly slow, a huge chunk of the job growth is going to vanish. When the job growth slows, in-migration will slow. When in-migration slows, the flow of jobs is down to a trickle, and housing is ridiculously expensive, where will that leave us?
(Jamie Swift, King County Journal, 07.01.2006)