Low Wages in Spokane and Housing Affordability

Many communities suffer from housing that is considered not affordable. In most cities this is because housing is too expensive for many buyers (which happens due to low cost credit that made homes available to those who would never be able to pay off the loan, creating housing bubbles).

Spokane, though, has a different problem – low wages – as described in this Spokane Housing Affordability report:

The equation for determining housing affordability is based on the price of housing and household income.  In many areas of the state it is the escalating price of housing that creates a housing crisis.  In Spokane, however, the housing affordability problem stems from the other half of the affordability equation — low household income.

I think what they are trying to say is that housing costs in Spokane really are low compared to other cities throughout the Northwest. Yet affordability remains low because wages in Spokane are surprisingly low.  Part of the reason for the low wages is because much of the job market demands low skilled labor.

Chart source: Trulia.com – data appears to be from US Census 2000:

This problem is solved in the Spokane County Comprehensive Plan (Chapter 8 ) by setting a goal that the average wage in Spokane will be above the national average. Yet, as the data indicates, Spokane isn’t even close to the average in Washington. Thus, Spokane has become Lake Wobegon where all the kids (and wages) are above average.

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