According to the Seattle Times, the prices of single-family homes in King Country "surged nearly 20 percent in January compared with a year prior." Condo prices also rose sharply ("23 percent from a year ago"). The medium price for a condo in Seattle is now $470,000. For a house, it is $757,000. In the Eastside, it is nearly $1 million.
In January, there was much talk about a decrease in the city's rent prices. This was supposed to be proof of the laws of supply and demand making things right as rain. But the kind of fall needed to make apartments and houses affordable for the working classes usually comes with a spike in unemployment. People only want to sell you cheap shit when you have no fucking money and can't find a goddamn job. That's one law you can always depend on.
To make matters worse, this fall in rent is looking more and more like a rise that's just slower than before. Certain models show that our high rents are nothing like our drugs. There is no going down at all from the high of what "the typical renter" pays per month in Seattle: $1,972. So, with all of these buildings going up, expect no relief for most of the people who live in this city.
What is truly mind-boggling is that the Seattle area still has a huge working-class population. Most of the people who live here do not earn tech-bro wages. As Seattle Times's Gene Balk explained in his piece, "As cost of living soars, half of Seattle-area tax filers earn under $50K, IRS data show," 901,000 people who filed taxes in the Seattle area in 2015 earned less than $50,000.
Anyone who lives in Vancouver BC will instantly recognize this growing break between housing costs and real wages. Houses, condos, and rentals exist in one kind of economy; standard incomes in another. This local break is, in fact, consistent with what we find at national and international levels of the economy.
One of the defining consequences of fictionalization is that wages in what Americans call Main Street are repressed as productivity increases and assets on Wall Street are inflated to fantastic sizes despite no, slow, or moderate GDP growth. The US economy has grown at 2.5 percent since Trump was elected, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average has expanded by 35 percent. Under Obama, it expanded by even more (61 percent from its low in 2008). And this in a world where growth is sharply decelerating in China, and sluggish in Europe and South America. Seattle is a microcosm of our bizarre times.