Census data shows Seattle’s population surge over last decade, fueled in part by tech job growth

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The Space Needle stands out amid cranes and construction materials near Amazon’s towers in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Seattle’s population grew by 21% to 737,015 people and King County swelled by more than 300,000 residents since 2010, according to new U.S. Census data released Thursday. The breakneck growth numbers place the region among the fastest-growing in the country. Seattle was one of 14 cities to add more than 100,000 people over the past decade.

The tech industry likely played a significant role, with the extraordinary growth of Amazon, the revival of Microsoft, and the emergence of cloud computing and enterprise technology — two strengths of Seattle’s tech ecosystem.

Amazon currently employs 80,000 people in Washington state, most of those within Seattle. That’s up from 26,500 in 2015. The online retail giant plans to add another 25,000 jobs in nearby Bellevue during the next decade.

Microsoft, with its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., had added 16,700 jobs in the area since 2014, according to its own data.

Both tech giants have seen their stock prices surge amid the pandemic and continue to hire. Amazon has more than 14,000 job postings for Seattle-area roles; Microsoft has more than 3,200.

Overall, the Seattle region added more than 48,000 tech jobs during the past five years, an increase of more than 35% — a rate faster rate than any other large U.S. tech market, according to a CBRE analysis.

The meteoric growth of the region’s tech industry in the past decade also has been driven by the expansion of Silicon Valley engineering outposts in the Seattle area, with companies including Facebook and Google continuing to hire and scoop up more office space.

One interesting tidbit from the Census data: The fastest-growing city in the region wasn’t Seattle or Bellevue, it was Kent, Wash., home to Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin.

The past decade has also seen not only population growth but a shift in the racial demographics of the region.

In King County, the non-Hispanic white percentage of the population declined by more than 10 percentage points from the prior census in 2010. The Asian population rose to 19.8% from approximately 15%. The county’s Black population increased by 1 percentage point.

Across the state, the percentage of Washington’s non-Hispanic white population declined by 8.7 percentage points, the largest of any state in the country, according to the Seattle Times.

Currently, the most rapid growth of any Washington state racial group is Latino or Hispanic, which increased by 2% to nearly 14% of the state’s population.

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