For the families of Seattle, life in the Emerald City comes at a steep price. According to the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, a family a four living in Seattle must earn $76,000 a year at the bare minimum in order to call the city home. This is an 80 percent increase from just 16 years ago.
Researchers at UW only included the most basic needs for living in the city; only food, transportation, and childcare were taken into consideration. The study did not include a single superfluous purchase — no trips to the movies, no football games, not even coffee. Families can live and work in Seattle, but are unable to do much else. “It’s a basic needs budget,” said researcher Diana Pearce. “So the food budget, for example, is only groceries. There’s not a slice of pizza, a latte, or an ice cream cone in there.” Single parents supporting two young children must make well over $30 an hour to survive in a city where the minimum wage is less than half that.
Of the top 10 most readily available jobs in Seattle, more than half make less than $35,000. Of the top 100 jobs in Seattle the average annual salary is $45,000. Jobs that the city depends on for its day-to-day operations, such as cashiers, salespersons, and servers make only a small fraction of what it cost to actually live here. These people, who drive the economy, who put forth the effort to bring in the capital needed to raise skyscrapers, feed tourists and illuminate the Space Needle enjoy only a small fraction of the fruits of their labor.
Also, coming as no surprise, is the fact that a large portion of people who work in Seattle are forced to live elsewhere due to the skyrocketing cost of housing. Seattle’s reputation as a leading eco-friendly city is under threat as a result of this increase in pollution due to the lengthy commutes people must make in order to get to work. Along with the environment, this has also taken a toll on Seattle’s roads, which are suffering due to the congestion. If the current trend continues, Seattle will run the risk of becoming a city exclusively for the affluent.
“Housing and childcare costs, absolutely, those are the things that have been driving the shift in every county we’ve looked at where the gap has increased” said UW researcher Lisa Mikesell. Despite the city’s presentation of itself as a hub of progressive politics and despite having a minimum wage that is above that of most of the nation, capitalism continues to fail the people of Seattle and neighboring areas. The workforce of Seattle continues to perform despite many not having homes, the workforce of Seattle continue to perform despite many not knowing how they will feed their children, the workforce of Seattle continue to perform despite not being able to afford to live. The need for organization is present, the need for the voices of the people to be heard is obvious, and the need for socialism in order to meet those needs is all the more evident.