Spokane schools to increase class sizes

The Spokane School District expects to cut “at least 150 positions” including “about 90” full time teaching positions:

School officials said they feel the district is in a financial emergency situation because, in addition to $54 million in cuts in recent years, $8 million in federal stimulus money will drop off in 2011-’12 and the district took a midyear cut of $4 million.

via District classes will get bigger – Spokesman.com – April 28, 2011.

This is a reflection of the local economic situation although this is very much a lagging indicator that says more about where we were than where we are right now.

Update: Latest word is that all the layoffs probably won’t happen. Par for the course, business as usual.

Why larger cities are seeing much higher wages

Larger cities drive growing wage gap between the rich and the poor, study shows.

These metropolitan areas have created “agglomeration” economies that have augmented productivity in dramatic ways, making workers more valuable and therefore able to command higher pay, says Pavan.

For example, he says, populous regions have been able to support advanced technologies and industries that would be impractical or impossible in smaller communities and rural areas and workers have more opportunities to learn advanced skills and are exposed to innovation more rapidly. As financial centers, larger cities also have easier and cheaper access to capital for bankrolling new ventures

Spokane Commercial Real Estate Vacancies

I continue to track the weekly data on commercial real estate but have not been posting the charts. Here is the chart for April 24th.

Updated as of Apr 24, 2011.  Data source: OfficeSpace.com

As always, each firm’s estimate of vacancies is calculated in their own way and estimates vary between real estate firms.

Kiemle & Haygood estimated an overall downtown office market vacancy rate of 16.5% at end of 2010. They estimate retail vacancies at 5% to 13.2%, depending on location, with the empty store front rich Valley area estimated at 11.3% vacancy. They estimate the overall industrial vacancy rate at 8.3% at end of 2010.

From driving around and seeing empty ghost towns first hand, the K&H numbers appear to under estimate the current vacancies. Similarly, the OfficeSpace numbers likely over estimate the vacancies.

Spokane’s Rogers High School Cybersecurity Team places 4th in the Nation

Arrrrrh! Go Pirates! Rogers cyberteam fourth at nationals – Spokesman.com – April 21, 2011.

March 2011 Spokane County MSA Employment; Unemployment at 10.5%

Unemployment continues to rise in Spokane “unexpectedly”. In 9 of the last 11 years, unemployment went down in March – except for 2009 and 2011.

Update: Eyeballing the data, we will likely see a half point or larger drop in April but that data will not be available until nearly the end of May. It is common for there to be a 2 point difference between the high and low for each year, which repeats in a cyclical fashion. The overall change, year over year, will likely be a trend downwards by about 1 percent. That means in roughly the same month next year, the unemployment will probably be about 1 percent less than this year. If you do not follow this, look at the chart from 2003 to 2007 and see how annual unemployment fell by about 1 percent per year.

Total non-farm employed. If we had remained on the job growth trajectory in effect up until 2007, we would have expected about 235,000 non-farm jobs at this time giving us a feel for the depth of this downturn.

Participants in the Spokane Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

The series of running (and walking) events started in 1983 and today takes place in cities all over the world to raise money for breast cancer research. The event was first held in Spokane in 2006.  Based on prior years, the event expected up to 11,000 participants in 2011.

Update: KREM, a race sponsor, said 8,700 runners in 2011.  Oddly, the SR “hides the decline” with its peculiar report saying “about 9000” and then later in their story says “close to last years” total of 8,800.  But never gives us the actual number for 2011. That’s bad reporting.

The percent of Americans working at jobs plummets

Only 45.4% of Americans had jobs in 2010, the lowest rate since 1983 and down from a peak of 49.3% in 2000. Last year, just 66.8% of men had jobs, the lowest on record.

via More Americans leaving workforce – USATODAY.com.


Our previous coverage on this topic for the Spokane County MSA.

    Charts from that item for Spokane: