Seattle region’s population growing at historic pace, making biggest annual gain in a century

(Via Flickr / MarcBiarnes)

Seattle and its surrounding counties added 86,320 new residents between April 2015 and 2016, marking the region’s biggest population gain this century, fueled in large part by the region’s technology industry.

In other words, an average of 236 people are moving to the Seattle area each day, according to a new report by The Puget Sound Regional Council , a growth management and planning organization. That number reflects natural increase (births minus deaths) and net migration (inbound minus outbound).

By that metric, the Puget Sound area has likely already surpassed 4 million residents, possibly as early as the first week of June. In April, population was at 3,985,040, according to the report. King County saw the biggest growth, adding 52,300 people (a 2.5 percent increase). Snohomish County followed with 15,260 newcomers.

The 2.2 percent increase in the Seattle area over the past year can largely be attributed to the region’s tech boom. Amazon is growing rapidly, adding jobs at a break-neck pace, and other titans like Microsoft and Boeing continue to be major employers in the area. These thriving corporations also feed into startup ecosystem as employees leave to launch their own ventures. Meanwhile, Seattle’s reputation as a city with top tech talent has compelled dozens of big companies to set up engineering centers here.

This hyper-growth has become a lightning rod in the community as traffic, housing prices, and cost of living rise rapidly.

Still, the Puget Sound Trends report notes that the current population boom isn’t completely anomalous. The region’s population has grown by more than 80,000 people in one year five times since the 1960s. Between 1966 and 1967 — three years after the Seattle World’s Fair — population grew by five percent, nearly double the pace we experienced last year.

Graph via Puget Sound Regional Council/U.S. Census Bureau.

“In general, these rapid population changes have occurred over two to three years before settling back to a steadier rate of change,” the report says. “If that trend continues, we can expect another year or two of heightened population growth.”

But the tech industry doesn’t always abide by socio-economic trends. Economists and business leaders often cite the Bay Area as an example of a boom town that doesn’t follow traditional cycles.

Will Seattle’s hyper-growth slow down or is it following in the Bay Area’s footsteps? Tell us what you think in the comments.