Manufacturing Industry in Spokane

The following chart is mislabeled – it should not be “percent of workforce” since it is actually percent of total population. But the slope would be about the same.

Over the preceding decade, manufacturing employment has gone from about 22,000 to 14,000 today. In the late 1990s, Avista forecast that manufacturing employment in Spokane would be about 26,000 to 27,000 by 2010, but rather than grow, manufacturing has been shrinking rapidly.

Note the sharp decline in manufacturing since 2000.

Source: Manufacturing in Washington State, 1990-2002: Trends and Implications for the Industry and State, Washington State Employment Security Department, and Washington State Current Employment Situation Report, June 2010.

Normally we look at the percentage of working adults age 18 to 64. The above percentages include children and elderly retired in the population. For the most part, the slope (downward) is going to be the same. I used total population because I had that data readily available but did not have the working adult population number readily available.

The decrease in manufacturing is presented as a positive with the following table and commentary that emphasizes numbers instead of percentage:

In 2000, Spokane County was home to 22,000 factory jobs, up 2,600 or 13 percent from 1990.  Gains in electronics, metal fabrication, food processing, and transportation equipment outpaced losses in machinery & computers and primary metals.

Source: Manufacturing in Washington State, 1990-2002: Trends and Implications for the Industry and State

During that period, Spokane County’s population increased from about 361,000 to 418,806 (2000) and 468,684 (2009 estimate) and from 2000 to 2010, manufacturing as a percent of the economy was cut significantly. Why this occurred, and a partial list of which manufacturers have left Spokane is here; this is also likely a reason why wages are low and the percent of those without health insurance has risen.

I did not compare this trend to the State of Washington or the nation; however, Spokane may be a microcosm of the national economy which seems to favor moving business and jobs outside the United States. Additionally, growth in government and health care service jobs likely offset the loss of the manufacturing “productive” side jobs.