Forbes: Seattle Job Market Middling

Seattle home prices can’t possibly fall, because we’ve got one of the best job markets in the country! At least, that’s how the argument goes… but according to the latest claims from Forbes, that argument might not hold much water.

Oklahoma has inspired its share of songs and one memorable musical. But it’s not exactly a top destination for recent college graduates looking for work. Usually, 22-year-olds flock to cosmopolitan cities like New York and San Francisco, assuming that’s where they’ll find the most opportunities for work (and, let’s be honest, a social life). But they might be heading in the wrong direction. Oklahoma City made it on to our list of the 25 best American cities to get a job. New York’s ranking? No. 75.

Of course, if you want a job in finance, you should still consider New York–Warren Buffett notwithstanding. And while Oklahoma City surely has a thriving arts community, the major metropolitan areas are probably your best bet if you want a career in theater. Our list looks only at statistics; we don’t focus on which areas are best for specific careers. And for the second time in a row, the big cities performed poorly. While Washington D.C. is fifth on the list (down from No. 1 last year), Chicago (No. 82), Los Angeles (No. 88), San Francisco (No. 86) and Boston (No. 83) couldn’t even break the top 75.

So where should you look for work? We wouldn’t rule out New York or Los Angeles; highly educated job-seekers should be able to find opportunities there. But the major metropolitan areas will probably never shine on this list. Despite high median incomes, they are generally plagued by unemployment, expensive housing and low job growth.

Coming in at number 34 on the full rankings, Seattle out-performed many of the larger cities. Keep in mind though that this is the same source that five months ago predicted Seattle home prices will shoot to the moon.

It should also be noted that #1 on the list is Raleigh, NC, home of Research Triangle Park. Raleigh is a strong competitor to Seattle when it comes to technology jobs, and if you put any stock in Forbes’ calculations (which I’m not saying I do), they currently come out on top by a long shot.

Seattle’s a great place with a strong job market (at the moment), but you’re only fooling yourself if you think we’re unique, special, and invulnerable to serious housing market declines because of it. The point I’m trying to make is that there are plenty of places around the country with job markets as good as or even better than Seattle. A good local job market obviously won’t hurt the housing market, but it won’t save it, either.

(Hannah Clark, Forbes, 02.16.2007)

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    Eleua says:

    But Tiiimmmmm,

    The “creative class” only go to the uber-sexy coastal metro areas, and have a single-handed responsibility for the sky high price of real estate.

    Mouth breathing losers go to places like Oklahoma. They don’t count. In fact, there is a trendy charity called “Laces for Losers.”

    It consists of hip-n-trendy coastal types going to flyover country on their way for a ski weekend. They stop in the suburban cities of the Rockies and Midwest and help all the uncreative dolts tie their shoes.

    “An ego is a terrible thing to waste.”

    Geography goes like this.

    You start in the Upper East Side (big money), and go to the fashionably chic and hip Upper West Side. After you cross the Hudson, you come to Aspen and then Lake Tahoe, and then the coastal California areas.

    There is nothing in between.

  2. 2
    Eleua says:

    I find it absolutely delicious that Seattle was sandwiched in between Tulsa and McAllen.

    Those “creative class” types are going to have a difficult time with this.

  3. 3
    christiangustafson says:

    OT, but Ben published my pix of downtown office buildings in Chicago going condo:


    This was in response to the Smith Tower thread. It’s While these buildings are on or close to Michigan Avenue, you can see the effect elsewhere in the Loop. The 2nd photo is 55 E Monroe St, about the last place anyone would imagine going condo.

    Some friends of mine were part of the initial push to convert industrial space into “lofts” in Printers Row, Chicago, in the late 1970s. At that time, you had an old dying industry being supplanted for residences. Now, as you stroll down Washington St, you see huge amounts of office space, and the service economy itself, giving way.

  4. 4
    Alan says:

    I’m giving Seattle five years. If I cannot afford a home by then then I am going back to Raleigh.

  5. 5
    kpom says:


    MS is going to be hiring hundreds of thousands of people, who are all going to make a million dollars a year, causing housing prices to explode from Bellingham to Walla Walla.

    You will be able to sit on the veranda of your modest $20 million Seattle home, and watch the fleets of 787s wheeling overhead…

    It’s **always** a great time to buy Seattle real estate!

  6. 6
    Slinky says:

    With all due respect to Forbes, I call bull**** on that ranking. Any metric that puts Norfolk/Virginia Beach (awful pit of a town with little resident industry) above Austin Texas (lively town with resident industry as well as government and research jobs around) has something very, very wrong.

    I would like to know how those are calculated, and what is “good” or “bad.” For instance, Honolulu is listed as #1 for unemployment. Does that mean Hono has the highest unemployment in the nation, or the lowest?

    Also I had to laugh at some of the “cost of living” metrics. Buffalo and Syracuse, NY both are at the #1 end of cost of living. Well, duh! They’re both also well known for being rust belt cities where the jobs left long ago. No work, no money, no money, nobody to buy stuff, nobody to buy stuff, prices fall, etc.

  7. 7

    […] lists, such as Best Places to Flip a Home (#1), Richest Cities In The U.S. (#8), Best Cities For Jobs (#34), and Most Overpriced Places In The U.S. 2005 (#1). Well, lucky us, we made yet another Forbes […]

  8. 8

    […] then fuel demand for houses.Ah yes, the fundamentals. Gotta love those positive fundamentals. Our strong job growth that is so directly tied to home buying demand. Our surging population growth that so clearly […]

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