As Amazon goes, so goes the Puget Sound area | KUOW News and Information

As Amazon goes, so goes the Puget Sound area

Jan 13, 2017

Amazon announced on Thursday that it’s adding 100,000 jobs nationwide by the middle of 2018.

It's a huge growth spurt for the Seattle-based company. The hiring will boost Amazon's U.S. workforce from 180,000 to 280,000 people in just 18 months time. The company had just 30,000 workers back in 2010.

Regional economists say there's no doubt the hiring boom will impact the Puget Sound area. Seattle based economist Dick Conway says high-paying jobs bring a multiplier effect, by encouraging job growth in other industries.

Conway: "The employment multiplier is typically around three, meaning that for every Amazon job that's created eventually you will have two other jobs being supported in the economy.'

Amazon officials have not disclosed how many of the new jobs will be in Washington. Officials say there will be jobs in engineering, software development, the fulfillment centers, and more. Amazon says the 100-thousand new jobs nationwide will be full-time with benefits.

But there is a downside to Amazon's hiring boom: it will put an even bigger stress on the housing market. Regional economist Annaliese Vance-Sherman is with the state's Employment Security Department.

Vance-Sherman: "There's a lot of pressure on the existing housing stock, so this has had an effect on displacing some people, so this is one of the negative effects."

The influx of high-paid workers has tended to push lower-income people out of housing.

Meanwhile, the strength of Seattle's economy is relying more and more on Amazon. That relationship has become clearer since the great recession.

After the recession, the Puget Sound area recovered twice as fast as the rest of the country. Conway says Amazon and Boeing -- but particularly Amazon -- drove that fast pace.

Conway: "Amazon has provided the real spark for our economy. If you take Amazon and Boeing out of the equation, our economy actually has been growing much like the national economy, so right now Amazon is really the difference."

Conway says without Amazon, our economy would not have recovered so fast.

Friday, Boeing announced a major airplane order for 100 new 737 MAX jets for India's SpiceJet. The deal has a list price of $22 billion. But, the company also announced it is downsizing its workforce this year because the 777 jet program is winding down.

Paige Browning can be reached at paige@kuow.org or @paigebpaige_