Half-yearly job gains highest since 2000

Job growth continues to accelerate, with the region gaining 32,800 jobs in the first six months of 2016.

In a year’s time, the region gained 64,000 jobs – an average growth rate of 3.2%, between June 2015 and June 2016.

All four counties added jobs. King and Snohomish counties continue to be the major  contributors to regional job growth.

The services sector, which includes jobs from IT, business services and recreation and food services, continues to experience robust job growth — gaining about 34,000 jobs over the past year, 8,000 more than it did between June 2014 and June 2015.

The construction sector grew 7.7%, the fastest annual growth rate between June 2015 and June 2016, while the manufacturing sector experienced slight job declines.

Total jobs in the region have now surpassed the 2 million mark and job growth is on pace to meet the region’s forecast of nearly 3 million jobs by 2040.

For more data on job growth, check out the latest issue of Puget Sound Trends.


Region meeting air quality standards for ozone

Ozone is often an air quality concern on hot days like we’ve had recently. But data from the last few years shows that the region is having success in meeting tightened federal standards for ozone.

photo of blue sky with white clouds

By remaining in compliance with state and federal air quality standards, the region can continue to receive federal funds for transportation.

While ozone gas is essential in the Earth’s upper atmosphere to protect us from UV rays, it’s a different story at ground level where it acts as a pollutant harmful to human health.  Bad ozone is formed when hot sun reacts with emissions from cars and other sources.

In a recent recommendation to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Ecology has proposed that all areas in Washington should be classified as in “attainment” with the ozone standard, or are unclassifiable due to insufficient monitoring data.

Ecology is asking for public comment on the recommendation through September 16.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and the environment.

All of the monitors show ozone levels below the 70 ppm standard from EPA.

All of the monitoring sites show ozone levels below the 70 parts per billion standard from EPA. (Source: Washington Dept. of Ecology)

PSRC has a role in ensuring healthy air quality in the region. Under federal and state regulations, PSRC is required to demonstrate that the long-range metropolitan transportation plan, Transportation 2040, and the Transportation Improvement Program conform to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for Air Quality.


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Travel survey begins to track use of car shares and taxi alternatives

With a tap on your phone screen, it’s easier than ever to hire a ride or borrow a car to get around town.

Many people anticipate that car sharing (Car2Go, ZipCar, etc.) and taxi alternatives (Uber, Lyft and others) will have a growing influence on how the transportation system operates.

About 4% of people surveyed in PSRC’s 2015 travel survey were members of a car sharing service such as Car2Go.

Many people anticipate that car sharing (Car2Go, ZipCar, etc.) and taxi alternatives (Uber, Lyft and others) will have a growing influence on how the transportation system operates.

A recent study estimates that users of Car2Go in Seattle reduced their household’s vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions by 10%.

It’s possible that the availability of these new transportation services, along with traditional transit, could result in more people being willing to get by without owning a car — or for a family to own only one car.

In our 2015 Travel Survey, we asked people whether they had used Lyft or Uber in the last 30 days.


About 11% of people surveyed in King County had used Uber and nearly 4% had used Lyft in the last 30 days.  The percentage using Uber or Lyft was significantly less in the other three counties.

Car sharing is another option, which requires a little more investment up front, usually a membership fee. In the 2015 survey, about 4.3% of respondents indicated membership in a car sharing service.  Car2Go and ZipCar had the largest share of members.


Like autonomous vehicles, emerging transportation business models such as Uber (and whatever new idea is around the corner) will have a growing impact on the transportation system and travel behavior in the years to come.  We’ll continue to track ride sharing and car sharing use in our travel survey in 2017 and beyond.

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Multifamily housing gaining steam

Construction of multifamily housing is accelerating as the region adds jobs and people.

While single-family housing growth is mostly flat, multifamily housing units have ticked up since 2012.

In 2016, Seattle added about 7,300 multifamily units  – 54% of the regional total.

A booming economy is fueling housing demand. Since 2010,  the region has gained 279,000 jobs – a 16% increase.

That means the region has added over 3 jobs for every new housing unit.

Average rental costs in the region have increased 43% since 2010. Average rent in Seattle is up 51%.

For more, check out our Puget Sound Data Trends presentation.


New ORCA Data Analysis effort to be shared at lunch event

When you tap your ORCA card, some data is collected and stored for transit agency financial record keeping. It turns out, this data is also a huge untapped resource that shows actual transit use in the region.

This map shows the percentage of transit fares paid with an ORCA card throughout the region.

This map shows the percentage of transit fares paid with an ORCA card throughout the region.

PSRC is helping with a project to analyze this information in combination with existing vehicle location, ridership, and commute trip reduction data sources to gain a better perspective on regional transit travel behavior.

On Thursday, July 21, 2016, 12:00-1:30pm in the PSRC boardroom, this work will be presented by Mark Hallenbeck, Washington State Transportation Research Center, University of Washington; Eric Howard, UW Urban Form Lab; and Alex Krieg, Puget Sound Regional Council.

The lunch session will begin with an overview of the project’s conception and purpose, describe the process used to link the various datasets involved, review initial analytic outputs and findings produced thus far, and conclude with a discussion about the potential value for the project going forward.



Autonomous Vehicles – Young are interested, 75+ not so much

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are a topic of much conversation lately, with some saying they’re right around the corner, and others warning that the technology for completely driverless cars is far from ready for prime time.


Several car manufacturers and technology companies are currently developing autonomous vehicles.

Since this is all still fairly new, there’s a lot we don’t know about how much interest and concern people have about AVs.

In our 2015 Travel Survey, we asked two sets of questions to get a sense of people’s level of interest in and concern about AVs.

The first set offered seven possible uses for AVs and asked the respondent to indicate a level of interest from “very interested” to “not at all interested”:

  • Taking a taxi ride in an autonomous car with no driver present
  • Taking a taxi ride in an autonomous car with a back-up driver present
  • Commuting alone using an autonomous vehicle
  • Commuting with others (carpool) using a shared autonomous vehicle
  • Owning an autonomous car
  • Participating in an autonomous car-share system for daily travel
  • Riding in an autonomous car for a short trip to get to a vehicle (e.g., from airport terminal to parking lot)

The second set presented five potential issues related to AVs and respondents were asked to indicate their level on concern from “very” to “not at all” about:

  • Equipment and system safety
  • Legal liability for drivers or owners
  • System and vehicle security
  • Capability to react to the environment (other cars, bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.)
  • Performance in poor weather or other unexpected conditions

For this post, we’re looking at how responses varied by age. Young people are generally more likely to adapt to new technology – does this hold true for AVs?


In general, those 18-34 showed a greater interest in all possible uses of AV than the other groups, with level of interest falling off with greater age.

Around 40% of the youngest group expressed some interest and about half of those indicated they were very interested. Those 65 and older were the least interested, with the “very interested” at between 3 and 5%. They showed the most interest (at around 10%) in riding in an AV for a short trip to get another vehicle.

The two statements regarding commuting showed a different pattern. The 25 to 34 year-olds showed the most willingness to use AV for commuting, whether alone or with others, much more so than any other group. Surprisingly, the group with the second highest level of interest was the 65-74 year-olds, with one-fifth of those saying they were very interested in commuting alone in an AV.

Generally, there was less interest across the board for commuting in an AV with others.

Levels of concern for AV are high in all age groups, generally between 40-50% saying they are “very concerned.” Here, there is less of a trend by age: the older one is, the more concern there is, but the differences are not that great, and those 75 years and older seem to be less concerned than others, at least in two areas:  liability and safety.

The youngest age group, and in particular the 18-24 year-olds, have the least concern about AV in every area. They also had lower levels of interest compared to several other age groups.  This might be because having just entered the work force, this is not something they think about, or there might be some other dynamic going on that future surveys can uncover. But it’s also good to keep in mind that there were far fewer responses in this group than the other groups, except for those 65 and older.


Autonomous vehicles represent an emerging technology that will have more and more impact on the transportation system and our driving behavior in years to come. Attitudes both positive and negative will undoubtedly change as people see vehicles becoming more autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles start to enter the market. Because of this, we will continue to follow up on these questions in our 2017 survey and beyond.

Regional transit ridership growth still going strong

Monthly transit boardings were up about 3.6% in the first five months of 2016, once again outpacing employment and population growth.


Over the past five years, transit ridership is up over 13% since May of 2011.

Boardings on all modes of public transit have increased so far in 2016.

The Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium stations have greatly contributed to increased light rail ridership, where boardings were up almost 5% between April and May of 2016 alone.

Boardings on regional ferry routes have also increased over 2015 levels for every month in 2016 so far, for a total of 9.6 million boardings between January and May 2016.

See the full trend for additional data.

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