How much of 'the 1 percent' lives in Seattle? | KUOW News and Information

How much of 'the 1 percent' lives in Seattle?

Jun 20, 2018

Seattle got richer in the last decade. You know that.

But how many of those in the top 1 percent income bracket live here?

Listener Devin Hamid asked us that question, and we reported it out.

Hamid said the city has become so expensive — rents, property taxes, high occupancy toll lanes — and she wondered: Who feels the pinch, and who doesn’t?

It’s not an easy question to answer, because Washington state doesn’t have an income tax. But Professor Mark Long, an economist at the University of Washington, came to our rescue and analyzed raw data for us. 

Long told us that to be a 1 percenter in the U.S. in 2016, you had to earn more than $470,000.

There were 9,245 of these households in Seattle in 2016. That’s three times the national average.

But to be even more elite — a top 1 percenter in Seattle — your household had to bring in more than $602,000.

Credit KUOW Graphic/Teodora Popescu

This is how Seattle’s top 1 percent grew their income compared to the rest of the country, 2006-2016:     

Credit KUOW Graphic/Teodora Popescu

So the rich got richer. This is how the rest of Seattle fared: 

Credit KUOW Graphic/Teodora Popescu

The rich got much richer, but Long said nearly every income bracket rose at almost the same rate.

Long can't say why this is happening. It could be that the city’s boom has truly benefited everyone, and we’ve all gotten wealthier at the same rate. And rising housing prices have pushed some people out since 2006, which Long said might make lower income brackets appear to be doing better than they are.

Credit KUOW Graphic/Teodora Popescu

If you live in Seattle, you may wonder why you don’t feel richer. This takes us back to Devin Hamid’s reason for asking this question: increased costs.

Credit KUOW Graphic/Teodora Popescu

Special thanks to Professor Mark Long for helping us answer this question. 

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