Young adults keep renting, not buying

Seattle Times number-cruncher Gene Balk recently reported that young adults age 25-34, until recently eager to become homeowners, are passing on the opportunity.   Balk’s compelling charts show that in King County:

  • Homeownership for this age group dropped from 50% in 1980 to 25% in 2013.
  • More dramatically, after homeownership for median-income married couples age 25-34 stayed close to 80% from 1980 to 2007, it fell to only 50% in 2013.

While this trend can be seen across the county, “the rate of the decline here has been more than twice as fast as the national average.”

Possible reasons cited for the trend include:

  • Expensive real estate, which is especially unaffordable for young people just starting careers.
  • Delay of marriage (which is often paired with buying a home):  53% of King County’s 25- to 34-year olds have never been married compared to 27% in 1980.
  • College debt – a 5-fold increase nationally – which can severely limit the ability to save for a down payment and qualify for a mortgage.
  • Shifting attitudes towards homeownership, due in part to post-recession wariness, plus an appreciation of the flexibility and freedom from responsibility enjoyed by renters.

For more information on housing in King County, see recent Communities Count updates on:

Additional housing updates will be posted in the coming weeks.


How connected are we to our military?

Not very, according to The Atlantic’s current cover story, which asserts that “however much Americans ‘support’ and ‘respect’ their troops, they are not involved with them, and that disengagement inevitably leads to dangerous decisions the public barely notices.” It wasn’t always this way: At least 3 out of 4 Americans born before 1955 had a parent, spouse, sibling, or child who served in the military; for those born since 1980, the number is only 1 in 3.

The article’s interactive map enables readers to view military enlistment rates by 3-digit ZIP code prefixes. Almost everyone in King County lives in the 981- or 980- ZIP codes. For 981- ZIP codes (Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Burien, Tukwila, Renton-North, Normandy Park, Des Moines, and SeaTac), per capita enlistment from 2000 to 2010 was 19.6 per 1,000 population (38,295 individuals). For 980- ZIP codes (everyplace else except the northeast corner of the county), the number of enlistees was lower (16,550), but the enlistment rate was 1.5 times higher – 29.9 per 1,000 population, suggesting that Seattle residents are less likely than those in other parts of the county to have close family connections to active-duty military.

A 2013 report from King County’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) shows a similar pattern for veterans, with almost three-quarters of the county’s 127,000 veterans living outside Seattle.

While most Communities Count analyses found no differences by military status, a couple of results are worth noting. First, veterans were significantly less likely than non-veterans to report that they experienced discrimination during the past year. This suggests that “support and respect” for the military is alive and well in King County. Another notable finding, while not surprising, was that veterans had a higher rate of disability than non-veterans. According to the DCHS report, it’s likely that more than 20,000 King County veterans have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with as many as 12,000 reluctant to seek treatment or support.

King County’s Veterans and Human Services Levy has improved the quality of many lives by increasing access to veterans’ services in South King County and increasing PTSD community education and professional training. The Atlantic’s cover story suggests, though, that our military needs more than reverence and services: It needs the public and its elected representatives to become engaged enough to insist on accountability for high-level decisions that put our soldiers at risk in endless, expensive, and possibly unwinnable wars.

Providing data. Inspiring action.

Did you know . . .
• Communities Count data were on display at the recent “RACE: Are We So Different?” exhibit at Pacific Science Center?
• King County cities use Communities Count data to make budgetary decisions about housing and human services?
• The Road Map Project and Eastside Pathways, two major education initiatives in King County, use Communities Count data for baseline data and performance measurement?
• King County Executive Dow Constantine used Communities Count data in his recent State of the County address?
• Children’s Hospital uses Communities Count data in its Community Health Needs Assessments?
• The Seattle Office for Education consulted Communities Count data to help predict the cost of the city’s universal pre-K proposal?
• CityClub uses Communities Count data in its reports on regional civic involvement?
• The Children’s Alliance and other groups used Communities Count data to advocate for retaining the state’s Basic Food program?
Click here to see these and many more examples of Communities Count data in action.
Please take a couple of minutes to let us know how you’re using Communities Count data.

Benefits outweigh costs of early education

In Are We Crazy About Our Kids, economists and bankers make the business case for investing in early education. This episode in a forthcoming documentary series, The Raising of America, calls on 40 years of research showing substantial returns on investments in high quality care and education for children birth to age 5, and profiles a successful program in Montreal. Seattle may get on board soon with Preschool for All, a proposal for voluntary, high-quality, universal preschool. A public hearing is scheduled for May 29th.

Nearly 1 in 10 King County drivers text or talk on phone

Washington’s first-ever observational study of distracted driving found that 9% of King County drivers were texting or talking on cell phones.  Does this matter?  Yes, quite a bit.  Talking on the phone while driving multiplies the risk of a crash by 4 times; texting by 23 times!  Although 38% of distracted King County drivers were texting, citation rates for texting are low.  The study was done by researchers at Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, UW Medicine, and Public Health-Seattle & King County.   Communities Count presents data on traffic safety for the county as a whole as well as for King County cities.