Which also means the city got 1.3% more dense last year, the most of any year since 1968. The county grew at 1.4%, less than last year’s 1.5%, so Seattle’s share of the county’s population continues to fall, though this time ever so slightly.

The new statistics show that efforts to concentrate growth in existing cities such as Seattle are paying off, Nickels said.

“One of the secrets I think to our success to be able to battle climate change will be for cities to become really compelling places to live, because we can’t afford to have people driving 40, 50, 60 miles alone from work anymore.”

King County Demographer Chandler Felt said Seattle growth, and the lack of growth in unincorporated King County are successes of growth management.

“I think it’s pretty remarkable that Seattle is managing to grow at a comparable rate to its county and region,” he said.

Seattle now sits at 586,200, but housing is still scarce (from the PI article):

Abie Flaxman, 29, moved to Seattle from Pittsburgh last July to take a job as a mathematician at Microsoft, and found things were different here.

“Housing is the major issue in everyone’s life in Seattle,” he said. “Pittsburgh’s got houses for everybody. It’s got twice as many houses as it needs right now.”


Even with all the construction (some nine 25+ story condo towers are going to be completed by 2010, just within downtown), housing is still the major factor from density in the city. Nickels has said he wants 925,000 people in the city by 2040, which everyone thinks is completely unrealistic (including myself).

My simple excel extrapolation says that if Seattle continued to grow by 1.3% each year for the next 33, we’d hit 900,000 in 2040. To get to 925,000 we’d have to get about 1.39%, almost a percentage point higher. I have a feeling when Nickels says that 925,000 number, he is including the North Highline annexation, which would mean Seattle would only need to grow about 1.22~1.24%, depending on how many people live in North Highline (most people say 30,000~34,000). Still even 1.22% over 33 years will be tough for the city without massive development on the order we’ve been seeing continuing for years.

Seattle’s growth from 2000 to 2006 averaged 1.1%, which would be about 841,000 by 2040 without North Highline, and 890,000 with it. I bet that’s a more realistic number, but I’ll be 59 in 2040, so I wonder if I’ll care as much then. Even to get there, whole parts of the city will continue to need development. Well at least we’re growing smart, not sprawling out as much as the nation’s newest 5th biggest city, Phoenix, with 1.4 million at a density about that of Kitsap county.

Here’s a times article about the state at large.

7 Replies to “Seattle Grew at 1.3% Last Year”

  1. That’s because your brain tries to fit things where they don’t actually fit. ;)

    If you look at the graph from Seattle’s first settlement onward, it looks quite different.

  2. I’ve always been kind of a demographic-geek.

    I have been following it closely for some years and Ben has a good point. From the onset of American settlements we’ve grown with a few really large spurts and then moderate constant growth (1 percent-ish being considered moderate).

    I honestly think that with some annexation we will be at 3/4 of a million within the next generation. As was stated in one of the first episodes of Seinfield, “Why is everyone moving to Seattle?”

    Even immediately following the Boeing Bust ‘shut off the lights’ of the 80’s (which hurt us so very badly, population wise) people were still moving here. It’s true today. We just need to keep them here and alive.

    Even if we don’t reach that glorious Million Mark by 2050, our density will be more fair. Look at it like Boston. Hasn’t really grown in a hundred odd years, smaller than we are. But the Metro-Area is popping like it was hot. Here too.

  3. Let’s hope there’s no “microsoft bust”
    but I guess that’d mostly effect the eastside?

  4. I’m actually a little less worried about that than if Nintendo moves. There are a great deal many small game studios around here. Many are because of both Microsoft and Nintendo.

  5. I doubt that any of the predictions also account for growth due to global warming. In as little as 10 to 20 years, the Sun Belt and Bread Basket regions will become difficult, if not unbearable to live in. Seattle is one region where the global warming effects are supposed to make the standard of living rise (shorter but more intense rainy season, warmer summers, etc). All of this was in an issue of the Economist in August or September or so.

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