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Tech jobs changing face and costs of Western Washington

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SEATTLE – As Seattle’s housing and rental markets continue to rise, we keep asking the questions who can afford to live here?  Experts point to the booming tech industry as part of the reason for the increase and lack of affordability.

A new report ‘Cyberstates 2017’ released today by CompTIA shows Washington as ninth in the nation for tech jobs while adding 10,600 jobs added in 2016.

The study reports the average person in Washington makes $57,800 a year. The average tech wage in Washington is $134,800. That’s 133% higher than the state average.

Data pix.

“Obviously, South Lake Union is definitely picking up,” said Amazon worker Michael Sharps.

It’s picking up and jacking up the price if you ask data engineer Shuvi Powers.

“The housing and the housing market out here is just insane,” said Powers.

The 440-foot-tall residential skyscraper Cirrus in Seattle has one 652 sq. ft. studio apartment available for $2,260/month, according to its website.  Just down the street at Skye Belltown, a studio apartment will run you up to $3,016, according to its website.

“Talking to people who just moved to the area, it’s a point of frustration to find a place that’s reasonably priced,” said Michael Sharps, who works at Amazon.

According to the report, Cyberstates 2017, employment at Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia and other tech companies grew a combined 5 percent last year.  Software engineer Carson Crawford says the word is out.

“I’ve encouraged all my friends to become software engineers because we’re hiring like crazy,” said Crawford.

Hiring and paying like crazy, according to the report, which shows Washington ranks second in the nation for average tech wages.

“The key is finding a company who pays competitively so you can sustain yourself out here,” said Powers.

For those who don’t, they likely can’t call Seattle or even King County their home anymore. That’s why the state is pushing for Washington students to go into STEM jobs or emphasis on math and science to fill up these companies with natives.

“It’s pretty rare to meet a Washington native and a Seattle native at that,” said Crawford.

But Amazon's Sharps says there’s room for everybody. Transplant tech workers and those born and raised in the area should live and thrive together in a city that has affordability for different price points, he said.

“It’s something that as a community, we should look to work on,” said Sharps.

It’s a dilemma we’ve heard even from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray about embracing the job growth and economic boost, while working to find solutions for what the mayor calls the “affordability crisis.”

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