The U-Haul Economic Indicator for Spokane

Update: Seattle Times publishes “Jobless picture darkens in Eastern Washington“.  Spokane-based state labor economist is quoted as saying, basically, that Spokane’s problem is that Spokane attracts unemployed people. One cannot make this stuff up!

Look at the chart of total non-farm jobs here (2nd chart) – the problem is that Spokane lost about 10% of its non-farm jobs at the bottom and has close to a zero rate job growth since the bottom.

In any case, the Seattle Times gives a reason why the U-Haul Index below is a likely accurate assessment of the Spokane area economy.

Click though to check out the U-Haul Index for Spokane …

The Spokane International Airport web site has not provided updated passenger or cargo data for local airports since … March. When data goes AWOL it often means the data shows something bad.

This month we turn to an alternate proxy – U-Haul one way truck rentals!

Here are the costs of renting a one-way 26 foot U-Haul truck on a day in August from Spokane to a destination city, followed by the costs of moving in the reverse direction – the surcharge is how much more it costs to leave Spokane than to move back:

  • Spokane–> Boise $390, return $312, surcharge for leaving Spokane = +25%
  • Spokane–> Salt Lake City, $1003, return $671, surcharge = +49%
  • Spokane–> Denver $988, return $751, surcharge = +32%
  • Spokane–> Bellevue $390, return $304, surcharge = +28%
  • Spokane–> Kennewick $150, return $199, surcharge = +33%
  • Spokane–> Portland $344, return $352, surcharge = +2.3%
  • Spokane–> Missoula $223, return $237, discount = -6%

What it means: it costs 25% more to move to Boise than it does to move from Boise to Spokane, or 49% more to move to Salt Lake City, than to move to Spokane.

In general, it costs more to move away from Spokane than it costs to move to Spokane. Since most people move for job opportunities, this implies that job markets are better elsewhere.

It costs more to leave Spokane because as more people leave than arrive, U-Haul has to relocate empty trucks and trailers back to Spokane, which costs U-Haul, and hence, they need to charge a higher equipment fee to move out of Spokane.

This index has ramifications for home sales, apartment rentals and general retail and service businesses in the Spokane area.

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