Advancing economic opportunity in South King County

Public policies and institutional practices have long influenced the health and well-being of our communities. Housing policies, public investments in education, and employment practices affect where we live and what jobs we have. But continued institutional racism and unequal access to education and employment opportunities have led to racial and regional inequities in household income.  

In partnership with Communities of Opportunity, South King County residents are identifying and addressing income disparities by harnessing their collective power to create positive change and economic growth in their communities.

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how income differs by place

Income impacts many aspects of our lives, whether it’s used to pay housing costs, put food on the table, or pay for health care. When families have household incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) (approximately $49,000 for a family of four), they may have more difficulty affording basic housing and health needs.

In 2016, 21% of King County households were making less than 200% of FPL. This is the lowest percentage King County has had in the last ten years, but when you look at income by race and place you can see that this economic growth has not benefited all King County communities equally.

In the map below, you can see large differences in income depending on where you live in King County. 


From 2011 to 2015, South King County regions had the highest proportions of people with income below 200% FPL. For example, 46% of households in SeaTac/Tukwila had income below 200% FPL, compared to 6.6% of households in Samammish.

These differences in income are the result of a long history of redlining, in which policies and institutions discourage financial investment in neighborhoods they deem to be “declining.” These historical practices have led to the residential segregation of communities of color to neighborhoods that lack the same educational and employment opportunities as primarily white neighborhoods.

how income differs by race

This disinvestment in communities of color has led to disparities in income across race groups.

In the chart below, you can see black, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander households are all more than twice as likely to have incomes below 200% FPL than white households.



Community solutions to address income disparities 

Through partnership with Communities of Opportunity, community-led and equity-focused organizations like CIN and YWCA are helping make quality education and employment attainable regardless of race or place.

In SeaTac/Tukwila, community members are investing in the future of their youth and young adults by raising awareness around employment and economic opportunities in tech. To help tech companies understand and address systemic barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from access to jobs and to introduce young people to tech training and employment opportunities, Communities of Opportunity partnered with WorkSource and COO partners, Global to Local and Partner in Employment, to host a Diversity in Tech event for youth and young adults.

One hundred attendees from across South Seattle gathered at SeaTac Community Center to hear directly from tech professionals, employers, and training programs about working in tech.

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Learning from tech employers

A diverse panel of local tech employers from Amazon, Facebook, Zillow, and Alaska Airlines shared stories about their journeys into the tech industry, gave education and networking advice, and encouraged youth to pursue their passions.

Diversity in Tech attendees connected with local tech employers and young tech professionals.

Diversity in Tech attendees connected with local tech employers and young tech professionals.

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finding community support

Youth and young adults had the opportunity to connect with free and affordable tech training and education programs, including ChickTech Seattle and Year Up Puget Sound, and were able to enroll in free introductory workshops courtesy of King County, Skillspire, and General Assembly.

I met a lot of great people. They all inspired me to keep pursuing my dreams.
— Diversity in Tech event attendee

With opportunities to learn about free and affordable tech programs, make connections with education and employment services, and enroll in free introductory coding and tech workshops, youth and young adults of color in the SeaTac/Tukwila area were able to engage with support and resources to grow their careers and economic opportunities.



Want to dive deeper into the data?

Check out our interactive data pages to further explore what income, education, and employment look like in King County.

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