Spokane’s Median Household Income Trend

Previously, we looked at Spokane median income versus the state and nation and found that while incomes have gone up, they have gone up at half the rate of the rest of the state.

I recently had to make some inflation adjustments to some data.  I was curious as to what these adjustments would do for the historical Spokane median income.  The red line is median household income, after adjusting to 2010 levels (in other words, adjusting for inflation).

Data: The median income data comes from the Washington (State) Office of Financial Management. The historical median incomes were adjusted for inflation using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator.

Compare the above historical trend with that for the U.S. household median income – in other words, the whole country:(Background on the above chart is here. The data source is different and perhaps it should not be directly compared to the Spokane chart.)

Update: I have since drawn a chart for the State of Washington, as a whole. This too shows a sharp drop in median income, although not quite as far – this will be posted soon. I also sampled some BEA data on average wages per job and adjusted those for inflation. The inflation adjusted average wage per job appears to have risen over this period, while the household median income went down. While househould median income and average wage per job are not the same thing, I do not know why would go down while the other goes up. Perhaps there is a mistake in the data, the inflation adjustment, or something else. When I have time, I will post additional charts on these topics. For now, I’ve deleted the post-title “The Shocking Truth”.

My jaw dropped when I saw this. This is shocking, frightening and revealing.  After inflation, as U.S. median incomes have risen, Spokane area median incomes have fallen – apparently – to 1980s levels or lower. I hope that this is all wrong and I have made mistakes.  I have provided the data tables and the data sources for others to review.

The Spokane cost of living has not been going down. In the State of Washington, and at the local level, government’s are now increasing fees and tuition costs sharply. At the Federal level, taxes are likely to climb, perhaps significantly to deal with the budget blowout.

All told, Spokane residents fall further and further behind, year over year, decade over decade. This is an absolute disaster. But no one around here gives a damn.

Oh hell, let’s go pour more concrete. That’ll surely fix the problems.

Data Table

Spokane MSA Median income Adjusted for Inflation
1989 25769 $45,315.20
1990 27337 $45,608.24
1991 28355 $45,396.31
1992 29570 $45,958.06
1993 30482 $45,998.50
1994 31631 $46,540.68
1995 32256 $46,152.33
1996 33517 $46,581.15
1997 34920 $47,442.46
1998 36389 $48,680.00
1999 37308 $48,830.93
2000 39904 $50,530.24
2001 41036 $50,525.95
2002 41388 $50,166.21
2003 43041 $51,007.33
2004 45392 $52,398.08
2005 45070 $50,321.47
2006 46304 $50,083.66
2007 45605 $47,961.55
2008 44691 $45,262.45
2009 44917 $45,653.76
2010 44393 44393
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6 Responses to Spokane’s Median Household Income Trend

  1. Ron the Cop says:

    Here’s my two cents that I just expressed to Mr. X regarding his work:

    FYI – Shades of RPS, concrete pouring in Downtown Spokane that only benefited a select few, taken to a new and higher level. As Mr. X is so fond of saying these projects must be screened for real ROI that brings meaningful jobs and not low end service sector jobs – the new touted expansion of the Convention Center/Downtown Trolley System.
    [Recommendations 2: Part 3 – Wages and pouring concrete]

    I’m beginning to believe as Larry Shook does that such schema may be more widely spread than just Spokane. Either the players – financial meltdown are too big to prosecute or in this case and RPS, the wolves have been left guarding the hen house as the sheepdogs have been defanged! Those that have a fiduciary responsibility to act with due diligence with the public treasury have failed for one reason or another – incompetence, co option and or corruption.

    While the sheepdogs may be busy and or defanged, there is no excuse that the media (MSM) through investigative reporting hasn’t exposed these excesses to the people. In our local case the media has served as a cheerleader for these boondoggles with the public’s money.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH ALREADY!

    Mr. X perhaps your reporting will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back:-)

  2. Ron the Cop says:

    Here’s an email I just sent to Larry Shook (www.larryshook.com) regarding the latest finding of Mr. X:

    Larry,

    FYI – I’m an optimist. At some point the people once informed will rise up, revolt and cast off this aristocracy that runs this feudal fiefdom for its own personal benefit to the detriment of the people.

    Mr. X’s latest work is the most telling evidence yet as to the detrimental effect of letting this fiefdom, a criminal enterprise (As defined in RICO) run unabated. Another detrimental symptomatic side effect of this criminal enterprise is the ineffectual and incompetent police leadership as evidenced by Spokane PD e.g., the Otto Zehm Case and its flawed criminal investigation of the Creach OIS. Unabated this can have deadly consequences. Such incompetence is tolerated as excellent police leadership would not turn a blind eye to the white collar crime that occurs with regularity in Spokane. This would be a direct threat to this criminal enterprise’s continued existence. For the good of all Spokane citizens this criminal enterprise must be destroyed.

    The power of collective action by the people can remove this river leach that is literally sucking the life’s blood from Spokane. Spokane has many desirable attributes that once this leach is removed is destined to bring about real economic growth and wage parity.

    As Mr. X quipped in an email before the posting of his new piece:

    The situation in Spokane is far worse than I realized. This chart, with the data table and links to the data source, will be live tonight.

    Median household incomes in Spokane have fallen back to at least 1980s levels.

    I suggest that most local leaders need to either run out of town fast or expect to get strung up by the citizens at the nearest tree. This is the shocking truth they’ve been hiding in plain sight. [My emphasis]

    As Mr. X concluded in his last post:

    Spokane’s Median Household Income Trend – the Shocking Truth
    July 12, 2011 by inlandnw

    My jaw dropped when I saw this. This is shocking, frightening and revealing. After inflation, as U.S. median incomes have risen, Spokane area median incomes have fallen – apparently – to 1980s levels or lower. I hope that this is all wrong and I have made mistakes. I have provided the data tables and the data sources for others to review.

    The Spokane cost of living has not been going down. In the State of Washington, and at the local level, government’s are now increasing fees and tuition costs sharply. At the Federal level, taxes are likely to climb, perhaps significantly to deal with the budget blowout.

    All told, Spokane residents fall further and further behind, year over year, decade over decade. This is an absolute disaster. But no one around here gives a damn.

    Oh hell, let’s go pour more concrete. That’ll surely fix the problems.

    You and Mr. X using the new media can bring this message/information to the people that our local media seems incapable of doing.

    All recipients of this email are free to share with their own contact lists as they see fit. It’s the informal sharing of this information within every one’s social network that will cause the dam to burst.

  3. Sophe says:

    Your use of the data looks reasonable, but only another statistician will know for sure. For some reason, Spokane is treated like a slum by employers. The first step in recovery is to realize the truth of your status and you are doing a good job of pointing out the sad facts. Somehow I don’t think the Chamber will be promoting your findings anytime soon.

  4. inlandnw says:

    Sophe,
    Thanks for your feedback. I publish links to all the data and often, the data itself, in hopes that others will examine these findings and identify errors.

    All of this data has been hiding in plain sight. All of us can also see it and feel it when we drive around town and see the local economic impacts. Neither local media nor local leaders have given this data the visibility it needs in order to be addressed. To the contrary, much of our local news has become happy talk news, prominently featuring yet another human interest story. All nice, but not helpful at the moment.

    I hope others will take a look at this collection of data, analyze it seriously, and consider pursuing new and different directions. Doing more of the same today will not lead us to solutions.

    Greater Spokane, Inc, the local chamber of commerce, appears to be stuck in the past, doing the same thing they’ve been doing for a quarter century, which is promoting Spokane as the low cost/low wage city for businesses. They need to move on to new ideas. That, however, will require a change in their leadership and perhaps their staff.

  5. Rich P says:

    I would wait to jump off a cliff over these inflation adjusted wages. After looking further into the topic, I have seen the whole state, including King County, show a very similar trend. I would pass my charts along if only I knew how.

  6. Sophe says:

    Definitely have been noticing signs of increasingly depressed economy while driving around town. The data certainly needs more recognition, but the lad pointing out the emperor was sans clothing was not well received, at least initially. Keep communicating. The data are starting to seep around the wall of silence.

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