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Photo via Max Herman /
Photo via Max Herman /

So, if it feels like it’s really getting crowded out there, it’s because it is. Last year saw more newcomers move to King County since ye-good-ol’ Microsoft boom days of the early ’90s. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down, mostly thanks to Amazon.

The Seattle Times‘ Gene Balk crunched the numbers from the Washington Department of Licensing to find some interesting trends. The DOL stats show that 2014 shattered a record for the number of people getting new licenses: 64,376, a large bump from the 56,772 new licenses issued in 2013. That 2014 number beat the old record from 1990, the height of Microsoft’s boom, when 57,437 people moved here from out of state.

Photo via Commercial Property Executive/Amazon  HQ
Photo via Commercial Property Executive/Amazon HQ

The data shows that 2015 is on track to beat 2014. January and February already had a record number of new licenses issued: 10,616 in King County.

Who’s moving here? California is No. 1 by a long shot. The migration of Silicon Valley companies coming to the Emerald City for talent isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. Other residents are coming from Texas, Florida, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and India.

As the Seattle Times reports, the DOL has seen the fallout of the “Boeing Bust” affect numbers in the early 1980s, but it started to upturn with the rise of Microsoft. The recessions caused by the bust of the early ’90s and the economic collapse in the mid-2000s are also there, but by 2010 King County was back on the rise, in large part to the growth of Amazon and other tech-related jobs in the area.

Just yesterday, we reported on Amazon’s latest expansion plans, leasing space in two more towers on the Troy Block. The mega-retailer is now moving toward 10 million square feet of office space in the city, enough space to accommodate more than 70,000 employees by 2019, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Photo via Washington Department of Licensing
Photo via Washington Department of Licensing/Total number of Washington State licenses issued (not just King County)

Other than making your commute and finding parking more painful, there’s really little impact the DOL is seeing from the increase in licensed drivers so far.

“Bumps like these are anomalies, and the data is collected after they’ve already visited one of our offices,” DOL spokesman David Bennett told us. “Because of our two-year budget cycle, they are really not impactful on DOL. As they occur, however, the offices could see more customers and it’s possible that wait times were increased.

“That said, if these anomalies are identified as major trends over several years, we would begin crunching numbers to assess the long-term impact, which may affect budgeting, workforce, etc.”

Editor’s note: We’ve altered the headline of this story and changed the attribution in the piece to better reflect that the research was initially conducted by The Seattle Times. 

Related: Is Amazon wielding too much weight in Seattle?

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