Urban areas attracting population and job growth

Growth has surged in metro cities of Seattle and Bellevue

The central Puget Sound region has seen a surge of growth in recent years, adding 376,000 people since 2010, and is now home to more than 4 million people.

The region’s VISION 2040 growth strategy, adopted in 2008, plans for most employment and job growth to occur in the region’s largest cities and urban centers.

Regional Growth Strategy Map

How is the region’s growth strategy working?

Looking at the big picture and in the context of a 40-year plan, growth trends are in alignment with or moving in the direction called for in VISION 2040.

Overall, the trend is showing an increase in population and employment locating in urban areas, cities, and centers, and declining growth within rural and resource lands.

In 2015-16 (the latest year data is available), 95 percent of job growth and 92 percent of population growth occurred inside the urban growth area.


Shares of Population Growth


Population and employment growth in Metropolitan Cities has surged since 2008, led by growth in Seattle and Bellevue.

Core Cities have seen steady growth since 2000, slightly below VISION 2040.

Overall, Larger Cities’ growth since 2000 aligns with VISION 2040 with some slowing since 2010.

Small Cities and Urban Unincorporated Areas (UUGA) are adding more population and jobs than planned for in VISION 2040, but at a declining rate since 2008.

Chart  -  Region Percent Shares of Employment Growth

These findings reflect trends averaged for the entire region, and mostly reflect patterns in King County, where much of the new growth has occurred.

So far, the pattern of actual development in Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties looks different from King County. Metropolitan and Core cities in those counties, which includes places such as Everett, Tacoma, and Lynnwood, have generally grown slower than called for in VISION 2040. Unincorporated areas have continued to grow more rapidly than called for in VISION 2040.

More complete results with county level analysis are available here.

Achieving the strategy as the region grows will help to protect rural and resource lands, invest in existing communities, provide access to regional transit, and address climate change. 

Comparing recent trends with the strategy is one way to measure how we are doing in achieving the VISION 2040 goals and help inform work to extend the growth strategy to 2050