Wages vary dramatically between occupations. Unfortunately, in Washington, that means homeownership just isn’t possible, no matter how much a person might work. For the relatively few people in occupations where wages have kept pace with the cost of housing, home prices are still about as affordable as they were more than a decade ago. But for most occupations, buying a home is now a much bigger stretch – or completely out of reach.
Homeownership in Washington
At the peak of the housing bubble in 2007 (prior to the Great Recession), 392,000 jobs in 14 occupational groups paid a median wage sufficient to afford a median-priced home in Washington.* When home prices bottomed out in 2011, that was the case for more than 1 million jobs across nearly 50 different occupational groups.
But as of 2021, just 293,000 jobs in Washington – in only four occupational groups – paid a median wage sufficient to afford a home at the state’s median price. Of Washington’s 10 largest occupations, only computer occupations pay a median wage sufficient to afford a median-priced home.
*Affordable is defined as purchasing a home equal in value to no more than 5 years’ full-time income.
As long as home prices continue to outpace wages in Washington, homeownership will remain out of reach for most residents. This isn’t good for our communities or our overall economy. It’s a problem that must be addressed in a variety of ways, from increasing the wages of industries which have been left behind to accelerating the construction of affordable housing.
Working families often dream of homeownership – but in Washington, it’s not feasible for many.
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