EVERETT — The median income for Snohomish County households is more than $87,000 per year — the second-highest in the state behind King County — according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The 2018 data marks a $5,000 increase from last year’s median income and a $24,000 bump from 2010. The median is the middle value in a set of numbers, such that a number is equally likely to fall above or below it, as opposed to an average.
Tech employees clogging I-5 on their weekday commutes to Seattle are proof that high-wage workers moving to Snohomish County, says Economic Alliance Snohomish County CEO and President Patrick Pierce.
“This is absolutely no surprise to us whatsoever,” he said. “We are seeing an influx in home buyers and new residents that can’t find housing near high-paying Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle employment centers.”
Pierce said the county isn’t just a cheaper place to live for commuters. Ports, Paine Field, health care and science industries, as well as Boeing and the rest of the aerospace industry, are hiring local employees and bringing workers from Island and Skagit counties.
“Our county continues to be a center of innovation,” Pierce said. “Those innovative jobs drive wages.”
Soon, workers in Seattle won’t be the only ones moving to Snohomish County, said Mike Pattison, a lobbyist for the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.
“The jobs have to go where the housing can go, too,” he said.
Since 2010, more than 100,000 people have moved to the county. The total population is nearly 820,000.
As that number continues to grow, officials across the county have to find ways to accommodate new residents, increased traffic and rising costs of living.
Additionally, median household incomes can differ between cities. Census bureau data released Thursday showed Everett’s median income was $63,000. That’s the same as the statewide median 10 years ago. But the number is a nearly $20,000 increase from the city’s 2010 value.
Marysville, the only other Snohomish County city included in Thursday’s data, has a median household income of about $74,000, which mirrored the state’s number.
Sudden growth in Sultan, Marysville and Arlington are signs of a housing shortage in the county, Pattison said.
Snohomish County Camano Association of Realtors President Glenda Krull said there’s still room to build in the county, but government red tape can slow the process and rising construction costs lead to higher home prices.
What the county needs most, she said, is affordable housing, “something a first-time buyer can afford.”
Krull said while prices aren’t at King County levels, “we’re getting there.”
Pattison said housing affordability is relative.
“As long as Snohomish County housing costs are lower than King County’s, it will continue to be attractive,” he said.
Up north, Skagit County could be the next area to see this kind of growth in three to five years, Pattison said.
Krull said northern counties are having the same problem as Snohomish.
“It’s supply and demand,” she said. “There’s nothing up there to purchase and a lot of buyers.”
Additionally, speculation of better interest rates in the future has stalled the rush for housing, Krull said. But historically, buying tends to die down toward the winter, too, she said.
Many prospective homeowners want to know what will happen next with the economy.
But Krull said discerning the future of the housing market and economy isn’t easy. “I wish I could predict it,” she said. “I’d probably be sitting on a beach with a glass of champagne.”