As of January 2012, Spokane’s unemployment reached 9.8% in January (update: 10.1% in February). There have been a very large number of business closings, particularly in the retail sector, from January through March. February employment data will be available on March 29th.
Non-farm employment fell to 201,200 in January 2012 which is 200 fewer jobs than in January 2011.
In January 2012, the total # of non-farm employed reached an all time low since 2005. Stated another way, January 2012 is the lowest non-farm employment we have seen in this recession.
- 1 out of every 10 jobs disappeared from the peak to today; at the peak, the unemployment rate was 5% to 6%.
But things are better now in Spokane because the unemployment rate went from 10.9% to 9.8%. Doublethink!
Data comes from the Washington Employment Security Department web site.
The State has not updated the following chart so I drew in the curve at far right to position the curve to the 201,200 level as of January 2012:
In terms of people holding jobs, Spokane has seen no recovery from the Great Recession and has just reached a new all time employment low for this recession.
People may have given up looking for work, moved outside the County to find jobs, become self-employed or be in jail. That could explain a declining unemployment percentage while the number of workers continues to fall.
Spokane Average Home Selling Price Falls 6.5% year over year
35% of home sales are distressed properties (such as foreclosures) but unit sales increased by 41%, partially due to a large percentage increase in a small number. Prices are expected to fall the remainder of 2012.
Educational Attainment by Neighborhood
27% of adults have a 4-year college degree or higher but most of the college educated live in three neighborhoods on South Hill or around Whitworth University. As we move away from those neighborhoods, the college educated rate drops to around 18-21%, and 10% or lower for the bulk of Spokane, north of the Spokane River (but excluding Whitworth University neighborhood).
Spokane’s college educated population is strongly skewed to South Hill and the Whitworth University area. Outside of those two neighborhoods, the population is comparatively poorly educated. I compared the above percentages to areas in King County, the San Francisco Bay area, and Austin, Texas, known for strong economies. In all but one of those zip codes I checked, the percent of adults having a 4-year college degree or higher ranged from 43% to 75%. This was not a large sample of zip codes, was probably not random and it could be wrong but … it hints that the educational attainment of Spokane adults is not where it ought to be for local economic success.
Today there is little demand by Spokane employers for college educated workers. As seen in this chart, few job vacancies require a 4-year degree or higher.
Median Household Income by Neighborhood
There is a correlation with college education and median household income – compare to the chart above:
Demographic data, organized by Zip Code, are available online from numerous web sites. The City-Data web site and Zipskinny.com were used for the above charts.
Spokane’s Invisible Empty Building Problem
Spokane is filled with vacant buildings – all of which are apparently invisible as no one talks about this publicly.
There are 18 invisible empty store fronts inside the Valley Mall (first weekend in March); there were 22 (+ or -) invisible empty store fronts inside the Northtown Mall.
In the downtown area, there are entire blocks of invisible, mostly empty buildings.
Drive down Sprague Ave from Sullivan to Mullan/Argonne Roads in Spokane Valley – I counted so many For Sale/For Lease signs that it worked out to an average of a sign every 3 seconds while driving along that 2 1/2 mile stretch of road. Turn right on Mullan Rd and see the same # down the next mile to I-90.
All of these empty buildings are invisible. They do not exist. There is no public discussion. There is no media coverage. In fact, we do not need to envision a better Spokane because Spokane is already perfect!
Oddly, in 2006, the news reported that a 4% retail vacancy rate is a “healthy market” but in 2012 a 12% vacancy rate on South Hill is a “booming” retail market. So what would a 24% retail vacancy rate in Spokane Valley be? How about “One of the brightest spots in the mix is Spokane’s bubbling retail sector“?
Orwellian Doublethink is alive and well in Spokane.
Confirmation of what this web site has documented through actual data – Spokane’s economy continues to slide while the rest of the state is growing. (This update added April 28, 2012).
Spokane News Media and Their Social Media Presence
The following two charts are obsolete and contained two errors and have been replaced by the above charts:
** KHQ TV and the Spokesman-Review are both owned by the Cowles family business and perhaps should be treated as a single number of about 43,500 on Facebook.
Each organization also has staff members with Twitter accounts. The above lists only the number of followers for their “main” Twitter user ID.
Spokane Police Lottery
The odds of winning the Washington Lottery are about 1 in 7 million. Much better odds are to become a Spokane Police officer, act dimwitted on or off the job, get up to five years paid administrative leave (vacation?), then get fired and sue the city and walk off with a million $ payout. The odds of winning the SPD lottery are about 1 in 100, far better than buying a Washington Lottery ticket.
Updates to this web site are made on an infrequent basis. May be there will be more updates, or may be there will not be more updates.
Actually there is going to be another update real soon that was written last year, never published but recently brought up to date. Stay tuned.