Seattle - Coffee Culture Poverty
“It’s people doing really well, and people making espresso for people who are doing really well.”
(Seattle Times) - Since 2000, 95 percent of new households in King County have been either rich or poor. Here’s how census numbers show the income shift for local households.
Is King County Ground Zero for the vanishing middle class?
You might think so after reading this bombshell of a statistic, which was dropped by King County Executive Dow Constantine in a recent speech: Since 2000, 95 percent of new households in King County have been either rich or poor. A mere 5 percent could be considered middle income.
|Welcome to Poverty|
Seattle might be the canary in the coal mine. Countless millions of
good paying middle class jobs are being permanently abolished
by the Internet, robotics, immigration and outsourcing.
That’s remarkable data, so let’s take a quick look under the hood.
Between 2000 and 2012, King County grew by 85,000 households — what Constantine referred to in his speech as “new households.” Data show that more than 40,000 of these households are low-income, earning less than half the King County median income (or about $35,000 in 2012). Roughly the same number are high-income, with earnings at more than 180 percent of the median (or about $125,000 in 2012).
That means, of course, that there was barely any growth in the middle-income group — just 3,500 households earning between $35,000 and $125,000.
Speaking to a New York Times reporter, Constantine put a Seattle spin on this redistribution of wealth toward the extremes: “It’s people doing really well, and people making espresso for people who are doing really well.”
But is this countywide trend — rich and poor growing while the middle class shrinks — also happening at the neighborhood level? In order to find out, I zoomed in on data for King County’s nearly 400 census tracts.
Answer: To a large extent, it is.
In more than half of King County census tracts, 95 percent or more of household growth since 2000 has been at the top or the bottom of the income scale. In most of these, middle-income households declined in number. We find these tracts spread throughout the county, but they are most heavily concentrated in wealthier neighborhoods in Seattle and on the Eastside, as well as poorer areas in South King County.
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