Spokane Crime, Employment, Airport Usage, Office Vacancy Rates and some “just WTF?”

Spokane Crime

Spokane is one great big crime hot spot: Spokane GIS – Crime Map.

Not sure why they bother to highlight some areas on the map – looks like most of the map is a hot spot. Ouch!

Non-Farm Jobs in Spokane Continues to Slide in 2012

Worst July since pre-historic times. And the January 2012 number was revised way downward.

Mentally draw a trend line through the downturn side of the chart – yeah, the situation is getting worse year over year. We’ve seen the first of two annual employment peaks and the first 2012 peak is lower than it was in 2010 and 2011. This is not good. In fact, this really, really bad.

Update: What is the State doing with the data?

The above is a screen snapshot of the State’s labor chart late in the day on Tuesday. They released the employment numbers that morning.

But here is a screen snapshot of the same chart taken on Friday morning.  Three days later ALL OF THE 2012 NUMBERS HAVE BEEN REVISED UPWARDS by adding 3,400 to every number – without any explanation as to why these changes were made, when they were made or by whom they were made.

Their Tuesday data release should have been publicly retracted but they did not do so.

The ESD spreadsheet summarizing labor markets state wide, including Spokane, has a figure of 203,640 for July for “total” (not just non-farm) jobs  – but this is larger than the non-farm jobs total published above?

Here is the data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the same non-farm employment – the bottom row should be the same as the rightmost row in the ESD chart but from May on, the ESD data starts adding thousands of jobs not shown by the BLS:

Here, for an additional comparison, is a chart I created from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, through June 2012.

The BLS data produced chart is roughly the same as the ESD chart shown on Tuesday before the ESD altered the data. The BLS data show that the Spokane job market continues to decline in to 2012, while the WA ESD data have been altered to show a flat trend line. We do not know why these differences exist.

(There is a tiny mistake in the chart below – does not change the overall trend, unfortunately. The original BLS data inserts a 13th data point for each year as the average of the prior 12 months. But this does not change the overall trend direction. It’s still down.)

Compare to Washington State Employment Trend

The rest of the State expands while Spokane suffocates …

Compare to King County Employment

Note that while Spokane County employment remains flat, real job growth is happening elsewhere. Why is that? Why has Spokane County’s economy failed? (Hint: That question is for local business and political leaders and reporters who are not asking this question of any local leaders.)


August will be back to about 9.0%. But add in the 10% of all jobs that vanished (see the employment numbers in the chart and table above) and the real unemployment rate is way higher.  Good thing so many people are dropping out of the workforce!

Bottom Line

Spokane has not yet hit the bottom of this recession. Most of the rest of the state bottomed in 2010 but Spokane is still trending downwards. Anyone else alarmed by this? Guess not.

Local Media Coverage of the Spokane Employment Situation

Which local media outlets provided the historical context above or note we’ve lost about 10% of all jobs since 2007?

The media no longer wants – or lacks staff and funding – to keep you informed on this topic. That’s sad.

Spokane Airports Usage Declines. Again.

Passengers going through Spokane “International” Airport continue a long term decline, still less than in 1996. For 2012, January-June passenger counts are prorated to end of year.

Felts Field Airport Usage Crashes

All that heavy use must be why the airport is currently rebuilding some of the tarmac and taxiways. Either that or, since this is Spokane, when in doubt, pour more concrete!

Spokane Area Office Space Market Continues to Suffer

According to the local Journal of Business (August 2, 2012), downtown office leases have fallen sharply in price with Class A office space falling from $24.59 in 2009 to $19.58 a square foot in 2012.

While Class A office space vacancies run about 7%, Class B is at 23.3% and Class C at 27.1%. Actual market “value” is probably even less than shown as the article says many landlords are limited by their mortgage to how low they can set the lease rates. Instead of lower  lease rates, they are offering free months to new tenants. The tenant still gets a discount but the “official” monthly lease rate stays inflated above what is really happening in the market.

Class A refers to premium office space, Class B is “average” office space, and Class C is below average quality space.

Spokane Valley office space runs 19.4% vacant.

Pretty glum numbers.

Just WTF?

As shown by the actual data – jobs vanishing, airport usage collapsing, and the fees charged by U-Haul to get the heck out of Dodge – Spokane’s economy is sick and surprisingly getting sicker year over year.

There are “leaders” who are paid good salaries to address these issues but they have failed. Why are they here?

What ever happened to the GSI bid for the Boeing plant? Last fall, there was a mad dash to ram through raising building height maximums to 150 feet throughout the County because Spokane was going to be the next site for a Boeing 737MAX assembly plant. GSI officials said so but later denied saying so even though they posted those claims on their Twitter feed. Two weeks later, that plan crashed when Boeing chose elsewhere but GSI then announced they had never actually bid for the Boeing plant! But never fear, they were going to put in a formal bid to Boeing in the spring. What ever happened to that?

One year ago the local airport officials said they received a million $ grant to bribe an airline to restore service from Spokane to Los Angeles. One year later, what ever happened to that?

A few months back, everyone downtown was opposed to the Spokane Tribe opening up a casino adjacent to Airway Heights on grounds that it was supposedly an “encroachment” on Fairchild AFB. A few weeks ago the base realignment commission process was pretty much put on hold for a few more years. And the casino fell of the radar. What ever happened to that?

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