In September 2020, Amazon opened a new “last mile” Fulfillment Center in Kitsap County. Constructed on a massive lot near Bremerton National Airport, the 117,000-square-foot building will speed up delivery times for Amazon customers. But it also brings about 250 new jobs to Kitsap County.
Bremerton residents often commute elsewhere for work. “That job that they’re possibly traveling 40-50 miles a day for… this offers that job right in our backyard,” said Bremerton mayor Greg Wheeler. Positions start at $17.25 an hour with benefits, including a matching 401(k), 20 weeks of paid parental leave and health coverage. The mayor also referenced the possibility of expanding the Bremerton National Airport for new freight and commercial flights.
This “last mile” facility takes shipments from larger Amazon warehouses. Here, they are loaded onto vehicles and delivered to customers.
Kitsap County’s Strong Labor Market
Kitsap County is poised for continued economic growth, with its strong labor market and consumer spending. Employment has grown every year since 2012, faster than the national average. Unemployment remains at its lowest mark since 1990.
The steady military presence helps fuel the economy. There are currently over 15,000 active military personnel, 18,000 civilians, and 500 federal contractors. So 200 new Amazon jobs isn’t a huge shift in the makeup of employers.
Higher Pay for Some
The Amazon wage is $17.25/hour. That’s higher than the state rate, so this Amazon development brings local diversity and additional job opportunities to an area that’s hungry for continued revitalization. More entry-level jobs is a good thing for economic growth!
The Amazon “Ripple Effect”
Amazon claims its investments contribute construction jobs, as well as new positions in healthcare and professional service firms. But that’s more true of cities like Bellevue, where Amazon is about to create 15,000 new jobs, and build its biggest tower ever.
If Amazon brings 250 or so new entry-level jobs to Bremerton, it’s not likely to over-tax our infrastructure (i.e., significantly more traffic). You wouldn’t expect these jobs to attract many new movers to the area or increase the population. But Mayor Wheeler says the Bremerton fulfillment center could also help create two jobs for every one person employed there. That includes delivery contractors and services that will be needed by Amazon employees. So there are talks of a new roundabout at Highway 3 and Airport Way Southwest to accommodate more traffic.
Over time, if the Bremerton airport opens up to new freight and commercial flights, we may see a real ripple effect in the economy.
Impact on Housing & Real Estate
My article, 2020 Housing Market Predictions for Kitsap County, outlines the benefits an challenges of economic growth for the local real estate market. As our population continues to grow (+8% since 2010), new construction can’t keep up with the buyer demand for housing. That means we’re in a hot seller’s market, and home values are rising due to fierce buyer competition.
Many millenials are entering the market to buy homes for the first time, due to strong job growth, low mortgage interest rates, and increasing rent costs. (Up to 50% of new mortgages will be issued to millenials, mainly for entry-level homes.)
The Real Source of Population Growth
Keep in mind that this explosive growth is happening even without Amazon’s help. The truth is that Kitsap County is still more affordable than King County. More people will be attracted here as Seattle expands its corporate industry footprint. Kitsap remains a top destination for people exiting King County, with its skyrocketing cost of living.
There is a big challenge ahead for Kitsap County planners, developers, and housing market professionals. We need to find new and creative solutions to address real growth challenges, and remove barriers to new developments in a responsible manner.
Bremerton Real Estate Market
For stats and info on the Bremerton real estate market, visit my Bremerton Real Estate Guide.
As home values continue to rise, buyers should feel confident in making a long-term investment in a home (see houses for sale here). And sellers will continue to celebrate the growing equity and appreciation in home values. We’re not in a housing bubble, and a strong economy is worth celebrating.
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