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Median Seattle household income tops $100,000, but many make much less

Photo: Emerita L. Wheeling Photography
Photo: Emerita L. Wheeling Photography
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SEATTLE - The median household income in Seattle topped $100,000 in 2019, jumping about $9,000 over the previous year, according to data released this month.

The data, from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey's 1-year estimates, showed the median household income in 2019 went up to $102,486, up from $93,481 in 2018. It reflected a continued trend in Seattle over the last several years.

In 2018, the median household income jumped nearly $7,000 over 2017.

According to the 2019 survey, though, there are still widespread disparities in the city, as thousands of households are making far less, with many likely not bringing in enough income to afford the high cost of living in the city. That is likely something that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic over the past several months.

More than 25% of households, according to the survey, were making less than $50,000 a year -- including about 9% which were making less than $15,000 per year. Nearly the same percentage, 22%, make more than $200,000 per year, up from 18.6% in 2018. More than 10% of people make between $150,000 and $200,000, and another 18.6% make between $100,000 and $150,000, according to the 2019 data.

For years, Seattle and King County have been struggling with a housing and homelessness crisis. According to the most recent Point in Time count, there were more than 11,000 people experiencing homelessness on a given night in King County, including more than 5,000 who were living unsheltered. The count is just a snapshot of homelessness in the county, and is likely an undercount of the true scope of homelessness in the region. Still, it represented a 5% increase in homelessness over the previous year.

Over the past several years in Seattle, rent and housing costs have also shot up, forcing people to move farther and farther out of the city to afford the cost of living.

In recent months, as the coronavirus pandemic has continued, it has made it even more difficult for low-income families and people experiencing homelessness. Local and state officials have put into place programs and policies to help the thousands of people who have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic and are now struggling to afford rent and other basic necessities, but it likely isn't enough to meet the massive need.

According to the 2019 census data, the median income for white households in Seattle was even higher, at $111,391. Among Black households, the median income was $43,545, a gap of more than $67,000. The survey come as thousands of people in recent months have been marching in the streets of Seattle and across the country day after day, fighting against systemic racism and police brutality, and demanding the city invest more in BIPOC communities.

Across the country, the median household income was $68,703, a jump of 6.8% over 2018, according to the data.

Other cities frequently ranked as the most expensive across the country, including San Francisco, had median incomes even higher than that of Seattle. In San Francisco, the median income in the city according to the 2019 survey was $123,859.


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