Region surging to 4 million people

Population in the central Puget Sound region reached 3,985,040 in April 2016, growing by 86,320 people in the past year. This is the biggest gain since 1980.

Since 1960 there have been five different times when the region added over 80,000 people.

Since 1960 there have been five different times when the region added over 80,000 people.

It is hard to know exactly when it will happen, but based on the current rate of population growth (about 236 people per day), we have likely already surpassed 4 million people in our region, maybe as early as the first week of June.

Every county is growing

King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties all experienced population growth this past year. King County grew by 52,300 people (2.5%) while Kitsap grew by 4,390 (1.7%), Pierce by 14,370 (1.7%), and Snohomish by 15,260 (2%).

Historic context
The level of population growth is not unprecedented.

In the late 1960s, the region was growing at almost 5% per year — twice the torrid rate we experienced this past year.

In general, these rapid population changes have occurred over 2 to 3 years before settling back to a steadier rate of change. If that trend continues, we can expect another year or two of heightened population growth.

More information on population trends is available here.

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Region magnet for newcomers as jobs grow

In-migration was the main driver of surging population growth in the region during the last year.


The orange line is people moving to the region, and the green is natural increase.

The four-county Puget Sound region added 63,270 people in 2015. More than two-thirds of this growth (63%) was due to people moving here.

As the region added 54,300 wage and salary jobs in 2015, we imported nearly 40,000 people.

All of the region’s counties added more people in 2015 compared to the previous year.

While King County added the most people, Snohomish County surpassed other counties by percentage of growth — 2.2% in 2014-2015. During the same period, King County grew by 1.8%, Pierce by 1.1%, and Kitsap by 0.9%.

For more data, check out Puget Sound Trends.

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PSRC debuts LUV, a new look at regional growth

The region is growing—in fact, we’ve added the equivalent of another Tacoma just since 2010.

Graphic of Land Use VIsion's regional growth projections

Under the Land Use Vision scenario, metro cities like Seattle and Tacoma would take on the highest share of regional growth—potentially 37% of the region’s population gains between 2010 and 2040.

PSRC’s mission is planning for growth, and there’s a new data tool to help the agency do that. It’s called Land Use Vision—though around the agency, we just call it LUV.

LUV projects the growth in jobs, people and households that individual cities and counties anticipate in their comprehensive plans, policies, and growth targets. PSRC consulted with planners in local cities and counties to build LUV.

It also reflects PSRC’s regional growth strategy, VISION 2040.

What does LUV say about where the growth might end up?

According to PSRC’s lead planner on LUV, Rebeccah Maskin, metro cities like Seattle and Tacoma would take on the highest share of the region’s growth—potentially 37% of the region’s population gains between 2010 and 2040.

Regional growth centers around central Puget Sound would also accommodate a lot of that growth.

Maskin says the LUV scenario shows 25% of the region’s population increase and 45% of its job growth going into centers between 2010 and 2040. Centers include places such as Redmond Overlake, Lynnwood, and Downtown Tacoma.

The share of people living in rural lands would drop slightly under LUV. In 2010, 14% resided in those areas (outside the Urban Growth Boundary). LUV allocates 12% of the region’s population to rural areas in 2040.

The growth assumptions in LUV will be used for models in PSRC’s update of the Transportation 2040 plan, VISION 2040, and other work.

PSRC also has two other tools for projecting future growth in the region: The Macroeconomic Forecast projects the total number of people, jobs and households in the region every year up to 2040. The Land Use Baseline is an alternative to the LUV, and reflecting current development trends to build forecasts for cities and counties to 2040.

Contact Rebeccah Maskin ( / 206-464-5833) for more about LUV.

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In 2015, region grew by 7 people per hour

In 2015, the region had its strongest population growth in a decade and its strongest job growth since 1997.

The region has shown it's strongest growth in a decade, or nearly two for jobs.

The region has shown its strongest growth in a decade, or nearly two for jobs.

That’s 63,000 people and 76,000 jobs in the last year. Or 7 people and 9 jobs per hour.

These are just a few highlights from the Growth Management Policy Board’s upcoming exploration of growth in the region.

PSRC staff has begun to compile fresh data on growth in the region and will begin presenting it at the board’s meeting on February 4, 2016.

Also on tap for that date is discussion on the Regional Centers Framework and 2016 policy board work program, as well as action on recommending certification of Comprehensive Plans for Everett, Lake Forest Park, Mill Creek, Monroe, Seattle, Snohomish County, Tacoma, University Place and Woodinville.

See the full agenda and watch the meeting here.

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Over 70% of us live in a city

70.7 percent of the people of central Puget Sound live within an incorporated area – a city or a town.

Auburn Vets

Auburn’s Veterans Parade was last Saturday. The city grew by 5,365 people from 2010 through 2015 to 75,545. “No one honors our veterans better than we do!” Auburn says.

The region’s 82 cities and towns have grown by 230,300 people (9.1 percent) since 2010.

Annexations from unincorporated areas accounts for 38.1 percent of that growth.

The rest of the increase resulted from real population growth: Natural population change (births minus deaths) and net migration (people moving in minus people moving out.)

Auburn and Seattle grew solely from real population growth from 2010 to 2015, adding 5,365 and 53,740 people, respectively.

All of this information and more is available in the latest Puget Sound Trends, including this table:

Top10TrendIn 1980, just 53 percent of the region’s residents lived in a city or town.

A wave of incorporations and annexations was spurred by the state’s Growth Management Act in the 1990s.

Since the GMA, more growth has also occurred within designated urban areas (UGAs), an increasing share of which is now incorporated.

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Region on pace to surpass 4 million people

Sometime in 2016 the central Puget Sound region is expected to be home to over 4 million people.


By 2040 the region is expected to be home to 28 percent more people and 40 percent more jobs.

New population estimates from the state show an overall 2015 population just shy of 3.9 million with an annual growth rate of 1.65 percent since 2014.

The state’s population now exceeds 7 million people – 55 percent of whom live within King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties.

Snohomish County grew by 2.24 percent, outpacing the growth rate of all other counties in the state.

King County’s population grew by 35,500 people – more than any other county – and more than double Snohomish County’s additional 16,600 people.

2015 Population Estimates

King County


Pierce County


Snohomish County


Kitsap County





Growing share of older adults in region’s future

The region is on the cusp of a demographic shift as the share of people over age 65 continues to increase.

Trending toward an aging population in the region.

PSRC’s newly updated  economic forecast indicates that the region’s population will get older over the next three decades. Overall the region is expected to add over a million more people and 850,000 more jobs by 2040.

The forecast projects steady growth in the number of households in the region, especially smaller households.



PSRC’s Regional Economic Forecast is updated every three years and provides regional totals of households, persons, and jobs.

The forecast is a key input to other PSRC models. It feeds directly into the land use forecast model (UrbanSim) and indirectly into all models that rely on forecasts of population, households, and employment.   The 2015 forecast is expected to be posted on PSRC’s website by the end of this month.

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