Coming on the heels of the city’s successful push for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, the Metropolitan King County Council recently raised the living wage for county employees, including county contractors, to $11 per hour, starting April 2015. But this certainly isn’t enough to pay for the average rent of $1,600 for an apartment or the median price of $517,000 for a single-family home in Seattle (based on September’s figures from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service).
The Seattle Housing Authority is even considering raising rents to more than what its public-housing residents can earn from their jobs.
County Councilmember Rod Dembrowski told The Seattle Times that full-time employees shouldn’t need subsidized bus passes or rental assistance; yet, they are not making enough to live without some form of help. The Alliance for a Just Society’s “Families Out of Balance” report, cited in the same story, said a single adult with no children and full-time work would need to earn more than $17 per hour to live in King County, even in the “lesser” suburbs south of Seattle.
Seattle and ultimately the rest of King County are pricing out its residents. The area could lose another 500 jobs as the county lays them off and cuts services that they may eventually need.
The upside: Seattle’s looming wealth gap may actually lessen — but only because there will there won’t be any low-income, working- and middle-class people left living in the city.