August employment and unemployment update for Spokane

Total non-farm employment (does not include self employed, sole proprietors and active duty military):

There are are 17,000 fewer non-farm jobs than in August of 2008 and this is the smallest number of non-farm jobs in the local market since January of 2005, and 10% below the peak level reached in late 2007 . The average number of employed, Jan-Aug in 2010 was 203,200 and in 2011, was 202,850.  The State says Spokane has a “stable jobs picture” and there is not a “negative trend”.

Unemployment rate (still subject to revision) is at 9.2 percent up from 8.8% in July. (The preliminary estimate for July had been 9.0%, and that figure was revised down to 8.8%.)

Update: August is often a low point in jobs during the year. You’ll note that the number of employed goes down in July by 3,000 to 5,000 but up in September by the same amount. The official explanation is that local school districts employ staff on 10 month annual contracts.  I do not know if that makes them eligible for 2 months of unemployment compensation, or not, and if that impacts unemployment in the summer. The September 2011 non-farm jobs numbers will probably come in at 203,000 to perhaps as high as 205,000, and then end the year around 203,000, less than in 2010.

Update: This has now been confirmed. The local school districts lay off their staff in June and then rehire all of them in September.

Spokane County’s unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in September, pushed downward by the return of teachers to classrooms.


Tweedy said the September improvement is a seasonal impact, resulting from schools adding staff after the summer vacation.

That is according to Spokane area labor economist-for-life, Doug Tweedy.