Month in review: January

I don’t know about anyone else, but even after just one month, 2024 is feeling like a long, long year already.

I don’t know about anyone else, but even after just one month, 2024 is feeling like a long, long year already….

If it’s Boeing, we’re not going

Not long ago, Boeing was Seattle based and an industry leader world-wide for efficiency, production reliability and, of course, safety.

To put it crudely, that was then, and this is now.

Who of us, for example, knew what a “door plug” was way back in 2023?

In 2024 the world knows door plugs and, for better or worse (mostly worse) the entire world, especially those who fly, know Boeing.

A door plug, by the way is a plug for a door on an aircraft that is not currently in use (as a door) .

And, just a reminder, when used as a “plug” it should be firmly attached.

Some industry insiders say that Boeing is one incident away from federal intervention and a production stoppage.

Boeing lost more than $2 billion — that was better than was expected.

In politics

January in an election year is packed with early caucuses and primaries.

As most of us expected, the upcoming presidential election is about Donald Trump.

In our current political climate, few of us are neutral or undecided. We have Trump “loyalists” and “never-Trumpers” in other words, anti-Trumpers and anti-anti-Trumpers.

Even President Joe Biden’s campaign prefers it to be all about Trump.

For those interested, (or not) in national politics, it’s going to be a long year.

In weather

As most of the rest of the country shivered and was paralyzed in ice and snow, we in Western Washington had our usual week or so of ice (and a little snow). For most of us locals, a few days of temperatures in the teens is enough for the year.

We do drizzle around here.

We might have another (very short) cold snap before May, but in January and February we usually hover around highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s. And, of course, our ever-predictable rain.

January ended with another round of the “Pineapple Express” – a warm and wet weather front from the South Pacific – which brought lowland flooding and temperatures easing into the lower 60s.

We might complain about it, but at least we don’t have to scrape it off our windshields.

High tech lay-offs

The high-tech industry has announced more than 25,000 lay-offs so far in 2024 – with many in the greater Puget Sound area – including about 2,000 jobs eliminated at Microsoft’s gaming division.

Google, Amazon and Spotify also announced massive cutbacks. Many more job cuts are expected as the year progresses.

For a little perspective, the high-tech industry lost about 22,000 each month through 2023. Meta (parent company of Facebook) laid off about one-third of its workforce in 2023 in what was called

Industry observers believe that years of expansion and over-hiring have led the field into this dilemma. AI is also seen as a contributing factor.

Lay-offs are not limited to high tech; local and national retailers and businesses from REI to UPS to Macy’s also announced major lay-offs.

Even online furniture company Wayfair is cutting about 13% of its workforce.

Real Estate market — what real estate market?

Increased interest rates had their expected/intended results across the housing market.

Housing sales stalled, rents rose, housing construction continued, but future projects are largely on-hold.

One trend took shape in several cities; conversion of office buildings into housing.

The work from home trend and record high real estate prices have combined to make office-to-housing conversions pencil-out.

Seattle, for example is converting over 900 office units to housing. The city of Renton is converting their old City Hall to 618 new apartments.

Other cities are converting warehouses, old schools and even churches into usable housing. As with everything else, it seems, even housing isn’t what it used to be.

As you might guess, converting office space to housing is complicated and expensive.

But some of us just might find ourselves with a whole new spin on “work from home” if we take up residence in our former work spaces.

In short, January is perhaps a template for 2024. We’ll see where politics, the economy and the general trends of our culture take us in the rest of the coming year.