Western Washington has a couple more years of decent growth ahead of it, according to Matthew Gardner, chief economist for Windermere Real Estate and an adjunct faculty member at UW.

“I expect the economic expansion to moderate in 2017 to about 2.4 percent nationally,” Gardner told Master Builders Association of Pierce County members at a Puyallup luncheon Thursday. But jobs growth will continue, personal incomes will begin to rise and unemployment is trending down toward 4.3 percent.

“Then by late 2018 or early 2019, we’ll end up with a typical ‘business cycle’ recession lasting about seven or eight months – and not one pegged to a real estate collapse” like what we’ve been growing out of. 

This economist explains that one reason many Americans are not believing that we have fully recovered from the “Great Recession” of 2008 is there has been non-existent income growth in recent years. “That keeps us from feeling as ‘happy’ as we could be” in a normal recovery.

Gardner says first-time home buyers are back and growing as a part of Puget Sound’s red-hot real estate marketplace, pushing toward 52 percent of buyers this year. Millennials out-number Baby Boomers by 500,000 or so, and they’re coming into their prime nesting years. Their big problem is a lack of net worth to afford a home purchase, in part because there is $1.5 trillion in student loan debts still on them.