By Chris Rising

We recently shared a few cities that are on our radar as great investment opportunities. All of them are in the Western U.S. and as we head into Q2, I can tell you that Rising is still bullish on many parts of the Western U.S. market. As our company expands and we seek markets beyond DTLA, the Western U.S. continues to offer incredible opportunities. In order to properly assess the changing real estate market, we have to look at what’s happening in these Western cities in terms of demographics. Here are a few trends we’ve identified that speak to our bullish stance on the Western U.S. market:

Younger demographics
U.S. population growth shows marked regional differences. While the West and South saw growth rates of 13.8 and 14.3 percent, respectively, between 2000 and 2010, the Midwest grew only by 3.9 percent, and the Northeast by a mere 3.2 percent. These figures reflect a movement of young people westward, as well as an immigrant population settling heavily in the south and west. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the state with the largest share of foreign-born residents is California, at 26.9 percent. Another western state, Montana, posted the largest increase of foreign-born people over the last decade, with a 60.9 percent jump. The mean center of U.S. population has moved steadily westward and slightly southward since the first national census in 1790. Since then, it has slowly shifted from Kent County, Maryland, to Plato, a town in southern Missouri.

Household income growth
In 2016, the Census Bureau showed strong median household income growth in Western metropolitan areas including:

  • San Francisco ($90,000 in 2015, $96,000 in 2016)
  • Seattle ($76,000 in 2015, $79,000 in 2016)
  • San Diego ($67,000 in 2015, $71,000 in 2016)
  • Portland ($64,000 in 2015, $69,000 in 2016)
  • Denver ($71,000 in 2015, $73,000 in 2016)

Job growth
Other than the South Atlantic region, the Western U.S. has the highest percentage of states with more than 3 percent job creation growth. Of these Western states, the ones with 3.4% and above job growth include Washington, California, Colorado, and Utah. (Source: Census Bureau)

Population growth
The Western U.S. is tied with the South for region with highest population growth of 1 percent. The only state in the West with a decreasing population is Wyoming. (Source: Census Bureau)

Internet Accessibility
According to the Census Bureau in 2015, Western states have the highest percentage of households with broadband access. States with 79.6 to 84.5 percent include California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Colorado, compared to the Southern states with 70.9 percent or lower.

The real estate market is always changing. But the data validates population trends that many of us in commercial real estate have noticed in recent years. As a forward-thinking company, we’ll continue to monitor the changing demographics as we seek investment opportunities in the Western U.S.