Seattle and Midland: A Tale of Two Cities

I was perusing the latest news on jobs and wages this morning, and I have been intrigued by the happenings in Seattle recently – the city council’s approval to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour (phased in over seven years) and now a proposed plan for free universal pre-school paid for with a $58 million increase in property taxes that would be put on the November ballot (there is also a union-backed alternative plan that would likely cost considerably more).  Seattle is on the cutting edge of “progressive” policies designed to ensure that people are paid fairly and receive free and equitable education for their little tykes, but at a steep cost.

Seattle is a beautiful city with lots of culture, delicious food and walkable weather (when it’s not raining).  Having  been there a few years ago, I did not spend near enough time taking in all of the sights and scenery and fish-throwing at Pike’s Market.  I would love to go back. Before I go further…let me backtrack….to Midland, Texas.

Midland, Texas, does not have the bells and whistles of Seattle.  Having been to the city many times, it is not a mecca of hip culture or fancy food.  The landscape is not that pretty.  I would generally call it “50 Shades of Brown.”  During the 1950’s it became a booming oil town and an enclave for some of Texas’ wealthiest families, but  that prosperity started to fizzle by the 1980’s as oil prices collapsed.

Now Midland has made a comeback.  How do I know, you might ask?  Because Midland and its sister city, Odessa, have repeatedly appeared in news articles as two of the nation’s fast-growing areas, in terms of population and job growth.  Seattle has appeared in – well – articles about raising the minimum wage.  Compare and contrast the two cities:

  • As of April 2014, the unemployment rate for Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area was 4.8 percent.  Not too bad for today’s economy, but the unemployment rate for Midland/Odessa was 2.6 percent, one of the top 3 lowest unemployment rates of metropolitan-statistical areas in the country.
  • A search of Seattle jobs on the website Indeed.com found that their job listings contained a higher share of internships, part-time jobs, contract jobs and temporary positions – in other words, more uncertainty.  83 percent of Seattle’s job listings were full-time (compared to 86 percent for Midland), 13 percent were part-time (compared to 11 percent for Midland), 6 percent were contract (compared to 3 percent for Midland), and 3 percent were temporary (compared to 2 percent for Midland).
  • While Midland does not have a $15 an hour minimum wage that progressives covet, the cost of living is slightly lower than the national average.  Seattle’s cost of living is about 20 percent higher.

It could very well be that Midland will experience another boom and bust as it did decades ago.  But it could also very well be that Seattle will soon become yet another San Francisco – a city that houses wealthy elite and drives out working middle-class Americans.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe Barnett says:

    $15 an hour for pouring coffee sounds about right….after all, there are plenty of 18-year-olds supporting their parents on the minimum wage!

  2. Steve says:

    Good point Pam! It’s going to be interesting to see how much Seattle’s unemployment rate will increase due to this new wage law. It may not “officially” increase as much as I would predict, if for no other reason that the people who can longer find a job may give up looking up looking for work, just as 9,500,000 people have done since Obama took office. I also suspect that the percentage working part-time will rise due to these wrongheaded liberal policies – Obamacare and the minimum wage.

  3. Mr Freedom says:

    the minimum wage law is such a travesty on every level by the way. It assumes that workers should be paid based on need rather than performance, it reduces incentives to grow skills and education, it is fundamentally unfair to workers and employers, hurts consumers who have to pay higher prices, and, most obviously, distorts the labor market and creates deadweight loss to society.

  4. Old man of the Sea says:

    Am I the only old man that sees a vast difference between Midland TX population 119K and Seattle population 635K? Seems there is a significant difference?

    Business QuickFacts Midland County Texas
    Private nonfarm establishments definition and source info Private nonfarm establishments, 2012 4,868 537,8391
    Private nonfarm employment definition and source info Private nonfarm employment, 2012 73,493 9,350,8291
    Private nonfarm employment, percent change definition and source info Private nonfarm employment, percent change, 2011-2012 11.9% 4.0%1
    Nonemployer establishments definition and source info Nonemployer establishments, 2012 14,801 2,014,124
    Total number of firms definition and source info Total number of firms, 2007 16,151 2,164,852
    Black-owned firms, percent definition and source info Black-owned firms, percent, 2007 2.5% 7.1%
    American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms, percent definition and source info American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms, percent, 2007 S 0.9%
    Asian-owned firms, percent definition and source info Asian-owned firms, percent, 2007 3.1% 5.3%
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms, percent definition and source info Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms, percent, 2007 F 0.1%
    Hispanic-owned firms, percent definition and source info Hispanic-owned firms, percent, 2007 16.0% 20.7%
    Women-owned firms, percent definition and source info Women-owned firms, percent, 2007 24.0% 28.2%

    Manufacturers shipments definition and source info Manufacturers shipments, 2007 ($1000) 533,829 593,541,502
    Merchant wholesaler sales definition and source info Merchant wholesaler sales, 2007 ($1000) 2,411,656 424,238,194
    Retail sales definition and source info Retail sales, 2007 ($1000) 2,276,743 311,334,781
    Retail sales per capita definition and source info Retail sales per capita, 2007 $18,058 $13,061
    Accommodation and food services sales definition and source info Accommodation and food services sales, 2007 ($1000) 259,193 42,054,592
    Building permits definition and source info Building permits, 2012 1,009 135,514

    Seattle
    Business QuickFacts Seattle Washington
    Total number of firms definition and source info Total number of firms, 2007 73,997 551,340
    Black-owned firms, percent definition and source info Black-owned firms, percent, 2007 3.7% S
    American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms, percent definition and source info American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms, percent, 2007 0.9% 1.2%
    Asian-owned firms, percent definition and source info Asian-owned firms, percent, 2007 9.8% 6.8%
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms, percent definition and source info Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms, percent, 2007 0.2% 0.2%
    Hispanic-owned firms, percent definition and source info Hispanic-owned firms, percent, 2007 2.5% 3.2%
    Women-owned firms, percent definition and source info Women-owned firms, percent, 2007 30.3% 28.7%

    Manufacturers shipments definition and source info Manufacturers shipments, 2007 ($1000) 7,076,203 112,053,283
    Merchant wholesaler sales definition and source info Merchant wholesaler sales, 2007 ($1000) 11,531,366 76,790,966
    Retail sales definition and source info Retail sales, 2007 ($1000) 15,968,835 92,968,519
    Retail sales per capita definition and source info Retail sales per capita, 2007 $26,945 $14,380
    Accommodation and food services sales definition and source info Accommodation and food services sales, 2007 ($1000) 2,730,802 12,389,422
    Geography QuickFacts Seattle Washington

  5. SBOBET says:

    I Will Immediately Grab Your Rss Feed As I Can’t Find Your E-mail Subscription Hyperlink Or Newsletter Service. Do You’ve Any? Please Permit Me Know So That I Could Subscribe. SBOBET

    Thanks.

Leave a Reply



If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.