By Peter Abbarno
20th District Rep. R-Centralia
Each December, I begin thinking about one word that sums up the past year. In 2023, inflation reached generational highs, gas prices in Washington state reached the most expensive in the country, housing was expensive and limited, and new taxes and fees passed by the Legislature grossly increased the cost of living for all Washingtonians.
I think it is safe to say 2023 can be easily summed up by most Washingtonians as “costly”.
It wasn’t only costly for working families, seniors, and our fixed-income neighbors. Washingtonians considered Generation-Z were greatly impacted by the spiking cost of living. The Gen-Z population is described as Washingtonians between the age of 18 and 26 years old. They are in college, working in the trades, or recently graduated and beginning their careers.
In 2022, Business Insider, estimated the spending power of Gen-Z was over $360 billion in disposable income. And while Forbes reports that almost a third of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 are still living at home with their parents or other family members, Gen-Z are saving one-third of every paycheck for the right investment.
In addition to saving a significant chunk, 45% of Gen-Z are considering becoming homeowners before 2026. A survey completed among more than 13,000 US participants revealed that more or less 21% of the Gen Z generation have plans to buy a home.
Will Gen-Z have homes to buy? Washington continues to fall behind the housing inventory needs. Currently, Washington needs over 450,000 housing units to meet demands. Legislative housing policies lack adequate infrastructure investments and are too narrowly focused- ignoring housing needs across all segments of the population. To capture the growing Gen-Z future homebuyer, our community needs housing at all levels.
Will Gen-Z buy locally? Like many, I assumed Gen-Z bought everything online. For our small local ‘main street’ businesses, surveys evidence Gen-Z is equally likely to make purchases in-person as they are to purchase online. This means, it is important to advertise across marketing mediums-from Radio – to Newspaper – to online. Gen-Z have disposable income and they want to buy locally.
Is the Gen-Z purchasing power being stifled by a bad economy? Despite the disposable income and eagerness to invest and spend, a recent Credit Karma survey evidence that 32% of Gen-Z Americans say they can’t afford to travel this holiday due to increased costs. According to the Deloitte Global 2022 Millennials and Gen Z Survey, number one concern of Generation Z is the cost of living. Right after having concerns about the instability of their financial existence (29%); followed by climate change is the other thing that they are mostly worried about.
Can Washington State turn it around? The 2024 Legislative Session begins in January and will have an opportunity to help create an environment where working families, seniors, fixed-income neighbors, and Gen-Z can find financial security and success.
I have heard from residents in my district and across Washington with concerns over the economy today and their future economic security. Next month, the Washington State Legislature will have the opportunity to reset the economic course of our State and address your concerns. I urge the Legislature to repeal the regressive Long-Term Care Payroll Tax; expand the Working Families Tax Credit; reduce the gas tax; invest in infrastructure that will help all communities build housing and create jobs: repeal the capital gains tax; and fix the ineffective cap and trade program that has caused fuel prices to skyrocket.
All of these legislative changes can help put more money in the pockets of those who need it most and increase household budgets. That in turn will help improve all our economic security and outlook.
Continue communicating with me and your legislators about the issues important to you, your family, and our community. To learn more visit www.Leg.Wa.Gov or share your ideas by contacting me at www. RepresentativePeterAbbarno. com.
Rep. Peter Abbarno represents the 20th Legislative District and is an attorney with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP.