Friday Roundup: Seattle’s income tax, California’s economy, diversifying the tech workforce

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Tax Foundation: Seattle Passes Municipal Income Tax; It Is Almost Certainly Illegal

Washington is one of the seven states that goes without an individual income tax, and most residents are pretty proud of that. In fact, voters in the state have voted down a constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax five times.

That could change though, as the Seattle City Council this week passed a local ordinance to enact an income tax on Seattle residents. The tax, which is 2.25 percent on income above $250,000 for single filers and above $500,000 for married filers, was unanimously adopted by the council on Monday.

The only problem is that the tax is almost certainly illegal under the state constitution and under state statute.

Geek Wire: Women and minorities shatter records as thousands take AP computer science exam

Diversity is not one of the tech industry’s strongest suits, but Seattle-based sees hints this could change in coming years: In 2017, a record number of women and underrepresented minorities took the Advanced Placement computer science exams.

The College Board, which runs the nationwide AP exam program, reported that the number of women taking computer science tests rose by 135 percent in just one year, while participation by underrepresented minorities was 170 percent higher.

New Geography (Kotkin): High-Flying California Charts Its Own Path — Is a Cliff Ahead?

The main problem is that California’s once remarkably varied and vital economy has become dangerously dependent on the Bay Area tech boom. Since 2010, the Silicon Valley-San Jose economy and San Francisco have been on a tear, growing their employment base by 25 percent. Job growth in the rest of the state has been a more modest 15 percent. “It’s not a California miracle, but really should be called a Silicon Valley miracle,” notes Chapman University forecaster Jim Doti. “The rest of the state really isn’t doing well.”

Such dependency poses dangers. The tech economy is very volatile, and now seems overdue for a major correction. People tend to forget the depth of the tech bust at the turn of the century. If you go back to 2000, San Jose’s job growth rate is among the lowest in the state, less than half the state average.

Geek Wire: Look out, Bay Area: Seattle rises to 2nd best tech city in the U.S., passing Washington D.C.

Seattle is now one of the top two tech markets in the nation, according to a new report from real estate services company CBRE, behind only San Francisco, thanks to booming homegrown companies and a vast roster of out-of-town companiessetting up shop here to recruit the city’s highly educated talent base.

CBRE’s annual Scoring Tech Talent report uses 13 metrics like number of tech employees, population trends, wages, education levels, housing and business costs to rank the top metro areas for tech. Seattle came in third last year behind San Francisco and Washington, D.C.