November 13, 2013
September 26, 2013 7 Comments
LaunchPad, Connect Northwest and Startup Weekend Spokane present a free event for entrepreneurs, startups and anyone interested in learning more about the emerging startup scene.
We are celebrating the Top 25 Startups for a hang out at a cool location with one of the best downtown views: The 3rd Floor Coworking Center and Courtyard at the Seahorn Building in Steam Plant Square, 157 S Lincoln. The event goes from 5:30pm-8:30pm.LaunchPad, Connect Northwest and Startup Weekend Spokane present a free event for entrepreneurs, startups and anyone interested in learning more about the emerging startup scene.
[They left out the date but their Facebook page says it is set for October 2nd...X]
We are celebrating the Top 25 Startups for a hang out at a cool location with one of the best downtown views: The 3rd Floor Coworking Center and Courtyard at the Seahorn Building in Steam Plant Square, 157 S Lincoln. The event goes from 5:30pm-8:30pm.
-Meet founders and representatives from top local startups
-Learn more about the upcoming Startup Weekend Spokane
-Get an update from past Startup Weekend winners and participants
-Connect with local service providers supporting the growing Startup Ecosystem
Appetizers, Beer and Wine served. See you there!
via LaunchPad News.
August 22, 2013
The WSU Washington Center for Real Estate Research issues a quarterly report on real estate in areas in Washington.
The following quotes on general economic conditions are from the summary for the Spokane Kootenai area for the Spring 2013 report. Conditions may have changed since the Spring report. Their general thoughts on the Spokane economy are glum, at best, unfortunately.
- Possibly seeing a net out migration of residents
- Total employed is less than in 2006 – we should have 15,000 to 20,000 more jobs today.
- Per capita income is about where it was in 2007.
- Taxable retail sales trending around 2006 levels.
Link: The Real Estate Report – Spokane Kootenai Real Estate Research Committee. Quotes from the report:
DRIVER LICENSE SURRENDERS
The data makes a case for little change in migration to the county. There is certainly no increase of in-migration. Other data would indicate that out-migration has picked up. This sensitive indicator bears watching.LABOR FORCEThe labor force is the same size as 2007. Total employment is 4 thousand less than the 2006 annual average. While there are kernels of positive results in the employment picture, the reality is that there should be 15 to 20 thousand more people working in this market.PER CAPITA INCOME
Through 2011, real per capita personal income was less than the 2007 total. Projections for 2012 and 2013 would indicate some improvement. Projections by Global Insight indicate that total Personal Income is now over $18 billion and may approach $20 billion by 2015. Transfer payments from the Federal Government are still a big factor for the County (23%).TAXABLE SALES DATA
Nice turnaround in 2012 but still below 2006 total. Contracting sales are running at 75% of peak. The County needs at least $280 million in new construction activity.
August 16, 2013
The statewide unemployment rate increased slightly to 6.9%.
So far, Washington has recovered about eighty-three percent of the jobs lost during the recession.
While the State recovered 83% of jobs lost, Spokane County has recovered just 36% of jobs lost.
Data from WA ESD June employment table:
- Lowest June employment during downturn was 206,100, highest June reading reached previously was 221,400.
- A total of 15,300 jobs were lost between the highest June and the lowest June employment levels.
- As of June 2013, there are 211,600 jobs for a gain of 5,500 since the lowest point. This represents a recovery of 36% (5,500 / 15,300) of the jobs lost.
Spokane County job growth is just under half that of Washington state. No explanation has been offered as to why that is happening.
August 11, 2013
“The House Price Index (HPI) shows changes in Spokane, WA single family home prices in logarithmic scale. The March, 1995 index value equals 100. Updated Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Real estate forecasts, analysis, statistics and appreciation rates are provided below.”
Spokane Real Estate Market – Home Price Forecast | LittleBigHomes. (The web site does not define the source of home prices – we assume this is average home price whereas realtors and local news often use median home prices.)
Here are historical year over year appreciation rates for Spokane, from the above web site:
2013 July Year over Year is -2.4% while 2013 cumulative versus 2012 is +1.7%.
Local news report uses an odd headline: “Spokane home sales have ‘recovered dramatically’ – Spokesman.com – Aug. 9, 2013″ based on unit sales up while pricing is down Year over Year for the month and barely up for the full YoY comparison.
Here is a comparison of Spokane versus Seattle, side by side, Spokane on the left, Seattle on the right. These indices are a logarithmic scale, both adjusted to a 100-level index, and should be used only to compare relative price growth, not actual prices. Horizontal tick marks are five year periods. A steeper curve means higher or faster price appreciation. Original charts slightly different in vertical height and re-scaled to be equal in size.
What this shows is that Spokane home prices appreciate much slower than in Seattle (and we could find similar comparisons to other major cities).
This means moving to Spokane (or any slow growth economic area) can become an unexpected one-way ticket.
If someone sells a home in a metro area, moves to and buys a home in Spokane (or any slow growing area), they will find that if they move back to the metro area, home prices at their destination will have risen much faster than those in Spokane. Because of this, a move to Spokane can become an unintended one-way ticket as Spokane sellers’ equity gains do not keep up with the destination market home price appreciation.
If that does not make sense, consider an example.
July 22, 2013 2 Comments
Years ago some one told me the Spokane Visitors Bureau put together a special map to avoid showing key visitors the run down appearance of much of Spokane. I thought he was joking.
He wasn’t joking – the map is for real and it’s called “Spokane City Drive“. The map weaves a path around the problems, potholes and empty buildings:
“We’re really concentrating, though, on how we pick the routes that we take them,” Kilday said. “Because there are days that traffic or construction or potholes all play a part into what we’re showing a meeting planner.”
In the future they will show off the heated pedestrian/bike bridge as the centerpiece of Spokane’s economic prosperity and city of the future!
Because the link to the VisitSpokane’s City Drive map sure as hell goes no where (its’a dead link – ain’t our marketing grand?)
July 5, 2013
Like totally booming! Spokane housing market thriving so far – Spokesman.com – July 4, 2013.
Let’s play “Let’s look at the data!”
Source: Trulia.com for Spokane (city) only.
Sales are back to year 2000 levels and the median sale prices is back to 2005 levels! Break out the champagne! The market is “thriving” for sure!!!!!
The following data is available up through 2010 – by 2010, Spokane County was experiencing a net outward migration (more people moving out than moving in). Data comes from Forbes magazine “American Immigration” interactive online database.
July 2, 2013
This chart shows industry sector growth (or loss) in Spokane County, from 1990 to the present, with each sector presented as a percent of total employment.
The most notable items are that over approximately a quarter century, the growth sectors in Spokane are government (red line) and health care (blue line, at top), followed by “professional and business services”. The goods producing sector (manufacturing and construction) has fallen considerably. Other major categories are flat to slightly down over this period.
This chart displays sectors as a percentage of total non-farm employment in Spokane County in order to show the change in sector size, over time, and independent of the change in population.
Bottom line: The growth sectors in Spokane County are health care, government and transfer (mostly government) payments to individuals and the broad “professional and business services” category (see below). The combination of healthcare, government and transfer payment income accounts for about half of the personal income in Spokane County.
UPDATE: This post has been updated. The original chart inadvertently left out the “professional and business services” sector.
All data comes from the Washington State Employment Security Department.
What is the “Professional and Business Services” category?
It is a broadly defined category of workers ranging from those we think of as professionals to lower skilled jobs including waste management and security guards. About half the workers in this broad category are high skilled and about half are low skilled workers. See bold faced number of workers, below (data from Washington’s ESD for Q3 2012).
The sector comprises three groups with the Spokane number shown next to each in bold.
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: NAICS 54 (8,964 workers)
- Management of Companies and Enterprises: NAICS 55 (3,064 workers)
- Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: NAICS 56 (10,633 workers)
Historical data for the individual groups does not appear to be readily available so we do not know which of these groups are showing growth in jobs. The wages in the third and largest category are broadly about half or less than the wages in the first two categories.
This grouping also includes “Call Centers”, relatively low skilled, low wage jobs – a category that has grown strongly as GSI has extensively recruited call centers for Spokane. This suggests that the growth of this category may be weighted towards the low wage sector and not the higher paid, high skilled sector contained within the broad “Professional and Business Services” sector (I have not yet found official data to answer this question, though).
The definitions here are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector comprises establishments that specialize in performing professional, scientific, and technical activities for others. These activities require a high degree of expertise and training. The establishments in this sector specialize according to expertise and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: legal advice and representation; accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; architectural, engineering, and specialized design services; computer services; consulting services; research services; advertising services; photographic services; translation and interpretation services; veterinary services; and other professional, scientific, and technical services.
The Management of Companies and Enterprises sector comprises (1) establishments that hold the securities of (or other equity interests in) companies and enterprises for the purpose of owning a controlling interest or influencing management decisions or (2) establishments (except government establishments) that administer, oversee, and manage establishments of the company or enterprise and that normally undertake the strategic or organizational planning and decision making role of the company or enterprise. Establishments that administer, oversee, and manage may hold the securities of the company or enterprise. Establishments in this sector perform essential activities that are often undertaken, in-house, by establishments in many sectors of the economy. By consolidating the performance of these activities of the enterprise at one establishment, economies of scale are achieved.
The Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services sector comprises establishments performing routine support activities for the day-to-day operations of other organizations. These essential activities are often undertaken in-house by establishments in many sectors of the economy. The establishments in this sector specialize in one or more of these support activities and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: office administration, hiring and placing of personnel, document preparation and similar clerical services, solicitation, collection, security and surveillance services, cleaning, and waste disposal services.
June 29, 2013 3 Comments
Cost is presently estimated at $14 to $16 million (the $16 m is in a document I received in email) for the University District Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge. Three years ago, promoters sold this project saying the “bridge may cost up to $8 million” – but carefully leaving out the other associated expenses.
In three years, the price tag has doubled.
Similar pedestrian bridges elsewhere cost in the $1/2 million to $4 million range.
To give that price context here are the costs of other bridges:
- Replacement of the older half of the 339 foot Argonne Road Bridge over the Spokane River – $6 million (in 2004).
- Rebuilding the Barker Road Bridge -$11.8 million
- Replacing the west half of the Sullivan Road double wide automobile bridge spanning the Spokane River - $19.7 million.
- Cost of temporary Interstate 5 Skagit River bridge replacement – $15.6 million.
Does $16 million seem appropriate for a pedestrian/bike bridge that will have diminished use in the coldest months of the year?
Update: As someone who likes to ride a bike, I support the concept. But a bike bridge costing $16 million, more than most automobile bridges in the area, is not supportable.
Update: Proponents defend the bridge expense by arguing its not just a bridge – its a $16 million municipal art project creating an icon that will make Spokane nationally and even globally famous. Students will choose to attend WSU-Spokane because of the bridge, they argue. It’s not just a bike bridge, its not just an art project, its a marketing program! Gag. See the comments to this for additional information.
Update July 9: There is a popular meme that the University District has a fast growing student population. However, the data that is available shows the combined student enrollment at GU and WSU-Spokane is flat to slightly downwards over the prior five years. This claim of a fast growing group of students is not true.
June 28, 2013
Promoters say 250,000 people will bring $38 million to Spokane: Hoopnomics: Hoopfest’s multi-million dollar impact on Spokane | Spokane/E. WA – KXLY.com.
Where did the 250,000 estimate come from? A survey done in 2006. Information on the survey is not available but some background information was referenced in a book, a portion of which is indexed by Google.
38 million divided by 250,000 is $152 per person being spent. The organizers assume half (125,000) are from out of town based on the 2006 survey. The survey did not distinguish between this estimated spending and spending that would have happened anyway:
The study did not account for the economic activities that may or may not have taken place in the absence of Hoopfest.
What that means: if a local participant spent some money on Hoopfest weekend, it is money they likely would have spent on something else. We end up with a transfer of spending from say, the Valley Mall or a movie theater, to a restaurant downtown. The overall impact to the local area is unchanged. Spending was shifted from beneficiaries in Spokane Valley to downtown Spokane. The net economic impact is zero.
There are also non-economic impacts including having fun and community pride in hosting a large event.
Here is a comparison to Bloomsday – the majority of Bloomsday participants are local or regional. Obviously, both events have economic benefits but the benefits are likely less than the headline numbers presented by promoters and unquestionably repeated by the media.
June 26, 2013
Data through April 2013, with the trend extended to end of 2013. This trend line is extended to the end of the year because the chart shows annual totals – therefore 2013 must be estimated.
June 26, 2013
The official unemployment rate is 7.8% and the actual number of jobs has risen in May. Employment in Spokane tends to peak twice each year – once in May or June and then again in about October or November.
Government and health care workers now account for 39% of the wage income in the area. This combination increased by about 1/2 percentage point every year.
Together with the third and fourth categories (retail, and then accommodations and food services), these 4 categories account for 50% of earned income. The 3rd and 4th categories are dominated by low wage, low skilled, part time jobs. When these two are added together, they are the largest industry sector in Spokane.
Together, these three sectors – government, health care, retail/food/hotels – account for just about half of the jobs in Spokane County.
I have rotated the chart into a vertical orientation to make it easier to see the relative sizes of the industry categories. From this you can see that Spokane’s economy is overwhelmingly dominated by health care, government and retail/hotels/food service and is not diversified. Government is also larger than it appears because much government work is outsourced to private contractors who work solely on government contracts. But this latter group is not counted as government workers.
June 11, 2013 6 Comments
The Brookings Institution profiles the top 100 “STEM” jobs metro areas nationwide. STEM refers to education or jobs in “science, technology, engineering or mathematics”. This particular study defines “STEM” jobs very broadly to include metal fabricators (if they use some math in their work), auto repair technicians (who use computer-based diagnostics) and technical writers who write about tech, in addition to the usual definition of STEM (4 year degrees in science or engineering or computer science). The unusually broad definition suggests this study had a conclusion before the study began.
Absent from the list is Spokane – the future med school will help a bit but will not add enough to place on this list.
June 3, 2013
Excellent reporting from Indian Country Today – with actual data!! – Was the Spokane Casino Helped by an Air Force Decision? – ICTMN.com.
Says government accounts for 17% of all jobs here, compared to 12% average on other communities.
May 31, 2013
Some continued to speculate about encroachment issues. “It would be very helpful to know whether the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino figured in the decision, if only to put the issue to rest for good,” the Spokesman-Review wrote in an editorial last week.
The answer is: No, the casino didn’t come into play.
“The proposed multi-use facility near Fairchild AFB was not considered in the decision process,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says in a statement. While the Air Force assessed existing encroachment at Fairchild — like the mobile home park in the base’s crash zone — it was never a “key finding or a major consideration.” In fact, in the initial criteria used to select candidates for the tankers, encroachment was worth only a measly two points out of 100.
via Flight Diverted.
The Inlander provides journalism you will not find anywhere else in Spokane. Check them out.
The casino and encroachment argument appears to have been about reducing competition for the Northern Quest Casino and the Downtown Business Partnership, as many suggested. Go here and page down to “The Proposed Spokane Tribe Casino, Hotel and Convention Facility” to better understand how the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino is a competitive threat to NQC and downtown Spokane.
May 22, 2013 1 Comment
Fairchild lost out to McConnell AFB in Kansas, Altus AFB in Oklahoma, and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire (in 2018) according to the Kansas news reports. Three of the four bases were selected for tankers and/or training facilities, with Spokane’s Fairchild and North Dakota’s AFB as the only bases receiving no part of the KC-46A program at this time.
Update: US Air Force press release. Says McConnell had the lowest construction costs for deploying the new tankers. And also the best geographic location for the mission.
Depending on future funding, additional tanker bases, including Fairchild AFB, could be selected in the years to come.
The proposed Airway Heights casino is not mentioned in any of the news reports as having anything to do with site selection (USAF will explain their decision later). Is the casino a factor? Consider that the Las Vegas McCarran Field airport is the 8th busiest airport in the world in terms of take offs and landings and sits immediately adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, the largest concentration of casinos in the world. That did not stop Las Vegas from expanding either the airport or casinos.
Per the next post below, Spokane area aviation has been in a descent since its peak year of 1993.
1993 is also the year that Rich Hadley was hired as CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, which later merged with the local economic development agency and became Greater Spokane, Inc.
In the early 1990s, the city was concerned about losing retail business in the downtown core, businesses moving out of the area, and there were fears about the possible closure of Fairchild AFB. Nothing’s changed in 20 years. Except that aviation operations have plummeted and wages have fallen further behind over time (see how average wages lag the state and nation and see this chart of average wages).
Surely it is purely coincidental, but the aviation numbers have been in decline ever since Hadley was hired. With this spectacular flame out, perhaps it is time for Hadley to retire and for the agency to seek new blood with a 21st century mindset with fresh, new ideas, and not just more of the same that has not worked out so well. (Well said).
Looks like Fairchild AFB will not be “encroached” by KC-46As!
May 21, 2013
The State’s latest employment figures show good gains this past month, with most of the growth within the “services” category and suggest Spokane is starting to climb out of its five year long jobs drought.
My interest is in the year-over-year growth figures and April shows good numbers.
It will take several more years before reaching the level of jobs present in 2007-2008. During this five year jobs drought, the population has increased which also means that labor force participation remains lower than previous levels.
May 6, 2013
Final Results – Bloomsday Historical Trend in Participation
2013 “Finished” came in at 47,165. My estimate was 46,930 which is within 1/2% of the final number. I did not update the chart since 1/2% would be the width of the line! KHQ TV’s estimate was 28% too high
The long term trend in Bloomsday participation is down
This chart shows participation from 1987 forward, with trend lines added. 1987 was selected as the start date as this is when the event reached maturity (actually slightly before it reached maturity).
There are many factors that influence participation including weather and local demographics. Would be interesting to compare this trend to other races in the NW to see if this is a local issue or a general issue for running events.
Percentage of registrants that finish
It is likely that the largest group of non-finishers are people who registered but did not show up on the day of the run.
Where Participants Come From
The overwhelming majority come from Spokane County, nearby North Idaho and then other areas in Washington State. Just 1.9% come from Canada – presumably they sing the Canadian national anthem at Bloomsday to give it an International flavor. (For the record, I really like Canadians and Canada.)
A reasonable guess is that at least 70%-80% of participants are local or just drove in for the day and do not stay overnight. Bloomsday is primarily a local Spokane/NE WA/N ID event.
The distribution of participants by geography affects the economic impact of Bloomsday. Those from out of town are more likely to stay in hotels and spend money at restaurants or shopping venues.
While those from in-town and the local area may also spend money at restaurants and shopping, this does not necessarily add to the Spokane economy. This is because it is spending money locally that would have otherwise been spent locally anyway and does not necessarily represent a net gain to the local economy. Whether we buy a hamburger a week ago or buy a hamburger this week because of Bloomsday, the impact is the same – no net gain. The main economic impact comes from those who are from outside the area.
There are both positive and negative economic impacts. The positive ones are mostly obvious, coming from true out of town visitors, the negative ones include businesses being closed and businesses that see lower sales on the day of the event because of the event, and disruptions to local traffic and local activities.
April 24, 2013
Total non-farm jobs decreased during March. Looking at the data from 2007 to 2013, the only other year employment went down between February to March was 2009, as the U.S. entered a deep and long lasting recession. Hopefully this downturn in employment is a fluke that will shortly reverse.
The unemployment rate went down from February to March. A drop was expected although this preliminary unemployment estimate is sharper than I expected. The unemployment rate refers to the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed and looking for work and the rate often tracks off in its world. I primarily focus on the total number of non-farm jobs – in other words, how many people are actually working. People who are working and creating things and delivering services are what makes the economy move forward.
With Spokane County at 9.1%, King County has fallen to 5.5%.
March 27, 2013
As we predicted last month, the February unemployment estimate comes in at 10.0%. The February unemployment rate is essentially unchanged from one year ago and has ended its trend of dropping one percent per year from 2010 to 2011 and then down again to 2012. March may come in at 9.5% to 9.7%. Elsewhere. King County’s unemployment level dropped to 5.9% in February.
There is some good news – the estimated number of employed people has increased – compare February 2013 to February 2012 in the data table.
Total employed remains less than in 1998 and 2000 (chart is from US BLS and is current through January 2013) which means there has been no growth in jobs for 12-13 years.