Spokane Employment/Unemployment, Real Estate and Airport Usage Trends

Spokane Unemployment

Unemployment rises to 9.1% in May.

Total non-farm employed improves slightly but remains on par with year 2005 levels – while the overall population has increased.

Data source for charts

Real Estate and More after the break

Spokane Real Estate

Here is a chart of Spokane home sales trends from Trulia.com. Y-axis is a log scale. Sales are a fraction of the peak from 6 to 7 years ago, assuming this data source is accurate.

As of June, Spokane  real estate is said to be “warming” when compared month over month or year over year. While its great to see the paper showing a chart, it would be better to have shown a longer period to give the reader the overall trend.  For previous funny quotes on local real estate, please see “Spokane’s Invisible Empty Building Problem” (and then page down).

Here is what Trulia.com has to say about the Spokane market:

The median sales price for homes in Spokane WA for Mar 12 to May 12 was $127,280. This represents an increase of 0%, or $0, compared to the prior quarter and a decrease of 0.4% compared to the prior year. Sales prices have depreciated 13.7% over the last 5 years in Spokane. The average listing price for Spokane homes for sale on Trulia was $229,524 for the week ending Jun 06, which represents a decline of 0.1%, or $191, compared to the prior week and an increase of 0.5%, or $1,193, compared to the week ending May 16. Average price per square foot for Spokane WA was $105, a decrease of 19.8% compared to the same period last year. Popular neighborhoods in Spokane include Moran Prairie, Northwest, Manito, North Indian Trail, Lincoln Heights, and East Central.

Spokane Airport Usage Trends

Travel trends at the local airport act as a proxy indicator for the local economy. SIA and Felts Field both continue their downward trajectory. Data comes from the SpokaneAirports.net web site; 2012 is estimated based on the Jan-Mar data extrapolated to end of year (April and May data have not been posted by SIA). Air traffic has been roughly flat since its peak in 1996.

As shown on this web site, this decline is not typical of other Pacific NW airports where passenger traffic is growing. Growing passenger totals are seen at Tri-Cities (Pasco, WA), Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, Great Falls, MT and Vancouver, B.C,  and Missoula, MT while Boise is slightly down although Boise has about 75% more non-stop destinations as Spokane does today.  Boise, Tri-cities and Missoula, MT have service to Los Angeles unlike Spokane which received a large Federal grant to bribe an airline to offer service to Los Angeles (and 9 months later, still no service).

Remember, the decline in passengers is not the fault of the airport or the airport’s management (which is quite decent) but is a reflection on the local economy. Also, SIA now publishes historical usage back to 1990 – thank you!

Spokane “International” Airport Total Passengers Remains Flat Since 1996

Comparison to Tri-cities / Pasco, WA Airport

Chart source.

Other Airports shown here. Several airports, including the Tri-Cities, had a record setting year (2011) or record setting months.

Unfortunately, local Spokane officials, including airport leadership, continue to spin that smaller airports are in decline and that is why Spokane is suffering even though that is not supported by the data from other Northwest airports. You may remember that Spokane’s taxpayer funded downtown Convention Center expansion (now on version 3.0) was going to increase travelers to Spokane. If it did, these visitors are not using the airport or the travel claims put forth by the CC proponents are false.

Overall, the Pacific Northwest airports data suggest Spokane’s economy is performing poorly relative to other Northwest major cities. The data suggest that local leadership relies on positive spin, often untrue, to make us feel better about our situation rather than being honest and working towards solutions.

In the past month or so I have been in both the Tri-Cities and the Seattle region. In both you will find much new construction underway and in the Seattle and King County “east side” areas, you will see few commercial For Sale and For Lease signs. In Spokane, we see For Sale and For Lease signs everywhere.

Spokane Achieves National Ranking. Again.

For the 2nd year in a row, Spokane leads the nation in the rate of auto thefts (per capita), coming in at 4th place nationally and 1st place in the state of Washington.

2011 Thefts And Rate Per 100,000

1. Fresno, CA – 7,621; 808.25
2. Modesto, CA – 3,315; 639.32
3. Bakersfield, CA – 5,240; 615.23
4. Spokane, WA – 2,614; 551.75
5. Yakima, WA – 1,308; 529.25
6. San Francisco, CA – 23,223; 528.87
7. Stockton, CA – 3,532; 507.32
8. Anderson, SC – 911; 483.32
9. Vallejo, CA – 2,002; 480.71
10. Visalia, CA – 2,125; 472.78

In other crimes

Poverty and crime are related. With a growing level of the former, Spokane is getting hit hard by the latter.

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