Spokane unemployment rises to 9.0%

As I predicted in August, Spokane MSA unemployment has gone up to 9.0%.

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Spokane MSA health care employment continues to shrink

Health care services is supposed to be the future of economic growth in Spokane. A new medical school is alleged to create billions in economic growth, for example. But look at what is happening in Spokane MSA health care employment – the number of jobs are in a steady decline, perhaps a steepening decline.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data. Their data table combines health care and some education sector jobs – but not public schools, which are the largest component of the education sector.

Anyone else a bit nervous about this trend?

Spokane Employment Vs. Labor Force through July 2012

Chart shows total available labor (blue line) versus the number employed (red line). The BLS data show that the Spokane area labor force and employment remain in decline and not yet at bottom.

Observation – Oddly, the labor force is nearly perfectly tracking the employment number. That is, when employment goes down, the labor force drops at the same time. This is explained as frustrated workers dropping out of the workforce but at a practical level, that seems unlikely when people still need to eat. At the state level, this correlation is not happening (see chart below). There is something odd about the labor data reported for the Spokane MSA.

Compare the Spokane MSA employment situation to the Washington State employment.  Employment in the state, as a whole, has been growing for about 2 1/2 years – while employment continues to contract in Spokane.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistcs non-seasonally adjusted data.