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New budget forecast paints rosy picture for Seattle’s post-pandemic recovery

A sunny morning at Gas Works Park in Seattle. (MyNorthwest photo)

Seattle’s financial future may very well be brighter than originally predicted, having taken a positive turn over the last five months, according to a new forecast from the City Budget Office (CBO).

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According to the forecast, the local economy has entered a period of recovery and modest growth, a trend that it predicts that will last into 2022.

The CBO projects that the city will likely see upwards of $1.5 billion in General Funds revenues in 2021. That marks a $20.3 million increase compared to the last forecast made in November 2020.

In the months to come, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stressed the need for the city to continue focusing on COVID-19 recovery efforts, both with ongoing increases in vaccinations and more resources for local businesses.

“We are on a path to a robust economic recovery, but we need to double down on our efforts to create a more equitable recovery and continue to support our small businesses, workers, jobs, and downtown,” she said in a written release.

As to what helped turn around the city’s economic forecast, it appears as though that’s largely been driven by revenue brought in from real estate excise taxes, business taxes, and sales taxes.

The city’s job market also began to rebound at the start of the new year, after a year that saw unemployment rates skyrocket both in Seattle and across the country.

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“After essentially no job growth in 2020 Q4, the labor market recovery picked up speed in the first two months of 2021,” the report reads, crediting the tech and online commerce industries for the bump.

Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda — who also chairs the council’s finance committee — expressed similar optimism following the CBO’s new forecast.

“This improved economic forecast is welcome news as our City looks to support residents and workers who are and have been facing trauma through the COVID-19 pandemic while looking towards long term goals such as housing, homelessness and economic resilience,” she said Monday.

The CBO will be presenting its forecast in full at Tuesday’s council finance committee meeting at 9:30 a.m.

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