Spokane Incomes Compared to Similar Cities

The following chart is courtesy of the City of Boise. Cities generally pick similar sized cities to compare their own city’s economy. Spokane picks Boise as a comparable city, and Boise picks Spokane as comparable, therefore, the following data is relevant:

Some newer data might be the following from 2008 (but source not yet verified):

  • 2008 Spokane median household income: $41,588
  • 2008 Washington state median household income: $58,078

On a statewide basis, the average Spokane household income is 28% lower than that for Washington State.

What This Means
In Spokane, most government, health care and education workers earn salaries similar to those in more expensive cities on the west side of the state.

Most other workers, however, earn substantially less.

Spokane’s workforce seems split in to two worker classes – those in the core group of government, health care and education – and everyone else.

The average salary of a Registered Nurse in Spokane is $70,570.; in Seattle, the average nurse salary is $77,877.

The average teacher salary ($59,738) in Spokane is slightly better than the average teacher salary ($58.888) in Seattle.  A new report from the University of Washington questions paying nearly identical teacher salaries state wide, considering the differing costs of living and local market rates for labor:

“The data also questions the notion of statewide teacher compensation when labor markets vary so much across the state, the report said.”

Another source claims an even higher average teacher compensation package (including benefits):

In Spokane, average annual [education] administrator pay and benefits is $107,670 …. Average teacher pay in Spokane, with benefits, is $81,000 for a 10-month year.

(I am skeptical of those higher claimed salaries based on other data that I have seen and that the above source is a political lobbying group.)

Outside of health care and education, the average software programmer in Spokane earns $56,691 per year; in Seattle, the average software programmer earns $88,215, or 38% less than in Seattle.

The average mechanical engineer salary in Spokane is $67,081 while in Seattle, the average pay is $89,463the Spokane salary is 25% less than in Seattle.

The average paralegal wage in Spokane is $49,287; in Seattle, $62,087.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage in Spokane is $720 and in King County is $1,177. About 2/3ds of Washington’s counties, which are very rural, earn less than Spokane’s weekly wage.

Bottom Line

If you work in government, health care or education, Spokane will provide you with a good salary and low housing costs and many other benefits.

If you work in most other fields, Spokane will provide you with a significantly below market level salary – which you can think of as the economic cost of purchasing less traffic and lower home prices. In other words, those working in other fields are possibly willing to pay 20% (or so) of their income potential for the benefit of low traffic, low home prices and so on.

The data also questions the notion of statewide teacher compensation when labor markets vary so much across the state, the report said.

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