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Seattle construction workers fear slowdown after new head tax passes

Seattle construction workers are wondering how long the city's building boom will last after Seattle City Council passed a new head tax May 14 that could affect the pace of construction activity, according to www.constructiondive.com.

The new head tax will cost companies with annual revenues of $20 million about $275 per full-time employee every year. The extra revenue is meant to help address Seattle's homeless issue, but construction workers are concerned companies will choose to relocate. The tax takes effect in January 2019 and is expected to raise almost $45 million per year during its five-year lifespan; about 60 percent of the revenue will help fund new affordable housing, and 40 percent will fund emergency services for the homeless.

Also referred to as "the Amazon tax" after the most high-profile company headquartered in Seattle, the new head tax rate is almost half the $540 per-employee tax council members originally proposed; this move could have resulted from Amazon's decision to stop construction on a new downtown tower in protest as the vote approached. After the council passed the new head tax, Amazon said it would resume construction on the tower but may reconsider its long-term growth plans in Seattle.

Many supporting the head tax say the growth of tech companies such as Amazon have contributed to the city's growing homeless population. High-paid workers purchase homes, which drives prices higher and makes housing less affordable for the working class.

Seattle leads the crane count for major U.S. metros, with construction creating more jobs than there are people to fill them. However, many of the more than 100,000 people driving the boom can't afford to live in the city and commute from up to two hours away.


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