High Employment, Recovering Housing Market Keep Seattle Residents Financially Optimistic
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Seattle is a major hiring hub for global companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google’s Seattle/Kirkland engineering office—and recently they’ve been hiring in the thousands, according to The Seattle Times.
The Seattle Office of Economic Development reports that Seattle ranks second in the U.S. for its concentration of software programmers and engineers and third in the nation for concentration of all Information and Communication Technology occupations.
“With so many successful local companies that are hiring, I think there’s a positivity about the financial future in Seattle,” says Catherine Darracott, Seattle Allstate agent and CPA. “Even people who are unemployed seem optimistic about job possibilities.”
Compared to national unemployment figures, Seattle is doing better than average with an unemployment rate of 6 percent in March, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in March.
And the same findings ring true according to the results of the second annual 2012-2013 Allstate Financial Life Tracks poll—Seattle is doing better than the national average in a city comparison that rates personal finances.
Taking a closer look at the poll, about 40 percent of Seattle locals rate their financial situation as fair/poor and about 60 percent rate their situation as excellent/good. In comparison, 50 percent of respondents nationally feel their personal financial situation is “excellent” or “good,” while another 50 percent say it is “fair” or “poor.”
When it comes to big debt concerns for Seattle locals, mortgage payments are a stress for residents, according to Darracott. “Housing prices are high here compared to the rest of the country, and mortgage payments are a concern for residents,” she says.
Thach Real Estate Group says that the Seattle real estate market is well on the road to recovery with a rise in local home prices. The company also predicts that there will be a significant housing market price increase in 2014.
“In the past 6 months, more people are buying houses—it seems as though financial confidence is on its way up (and interest rates are way down),” says Darracott. “People seem to be feeling more secure in their job and are feeling financially safer and are more willing to take on a mortgage.”
Managing your finances
But even though Seattle residents seem to be optimistic about their financial future, there are always ways to improve your financial footing, according to Darracott.
Start a budget and get a grip on where your money is going, she says. “It’s time for you to tell your money where it goes, instead of it just being spent,” she explains. Consider free online tools like Yodlee and Mint to create a budget for all of you spending needs, from bills to groceries to gas.
Once your expenses are organized, you can better plan to pay off your debt and budget for your purchases (such as tax or the holiday season), and make the most out of your money.
If you don’t already have one, start an emergency fund, says Darracott. This bundle of dough is there for you in times of emergency, like if your car breaks down or if you have to go to the hospital. “I recommend starting with at least $1,000 in this fund,” she suggests.
Take out life insurance plans for you and your family. It’s important that you don’t put off life insurance, as it is less expensive when you are younger. “If you wait too long, it’ll be more difficult to obtain,” she says.
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed about where to start when it comes to planning for your financial future, you’re not alone—40 percent of Americans admit to not handling their personal finances the way they’re supposed to or not knowing what to do. “There’s no fee to come in to talk to an Allstate financial planner, and we can help you get a plan intact so you can feel even more confident about your finances,” she says.
Allstate Agent Catherine Darracott is based in Seattle. Address: 4024 Aurora Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103. Phone: (206) 547-9917
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