Chart of industry sector growth (or loss) in Spokane County

This chart shows industry sector growth (or loss) in Spokane County, from 1990 to the present, with each sector presented as a percent of total employment.

The most notable items are that over approximately a quarter century, the growth sectors in Spokane are government (red line) and health care (blue line, at top), followed by “professional and business services”.  The goods producing sector (manufacturing and construction) has fallen considerably. Other major categories are flat to slightly down over this period.

This chart displays sectors as a percentage of total non-farm employment in Spokane County in order to show the change in sector size, over time, and independent of the change in population.

Bottom line:  The growth sectors in Spokane County are health care, government and transfer (mostly government) payments to individuals and the broad “professional and business services” category (see below). The combination of healthcare, government and transfer payment income accounts for about half of the personal income in Spokane County.

UPDATE: This post has been updated. The original chart inadvertently left out the “professional and business services” sector.

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All data comes from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

What is the “Professional and Business Services” category?

It is a broadly defined category of workers ranging from those we think of as professionals to lower skilled jobs including waste management and security guards. About half the workers in this broad category are high skilled and about half are low skilled workers. See bold faced number of workers, below (data from Washington’s ESD for Q3 2012).

The sector comprises three groups with the Spokane number shown next to each in bold.

  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services: NAICS 54 (8,964 workers)
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: NAICS 55 (3,064 workers)
  • Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: NAICS 56 (10,633 workers)

Historical data for the individual groups does not appear to be readily available so we do not know which of these groups are showing growth in jobs. The wages in the third and largest category are broadly about half or less than the wages in the first two categories.

This grouping also includes “Call Centers”, relatively low skilled, low wage jobs – a category that has grown strongly as GSI has extensively recruited call centers for Spokane. This suggests that the growth of this category may be weighted towards the low wage sector and not the higher paid, high skilled sector contained within the broad “Professional and Business Services” sector (I have not yet found official data to answer this question, though).

The definitions here are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector comprises establishments that specialize in performing professional, scientific, and technical activities for others. These activities require a high degree of expertise and training. The establishments in this sector specialize according to expertise and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: legal advice and representation; accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; architectural, engineering, and specialized design services; computer services; consulting services; research services; advertising services; photographic services; translation and interpretation services; veterinary services; and other professional, scientific, and technical services.

The Management of Companies and Enterprises sector comprises (1) establishments that hold the securities of (or other equity interests in) companies and enterprises for the purpose of owning a controlling interest or influencing management decisions or (2) establishments (except government establishments) that administer, oversee, and manage establishments of the company or enterprise and that normally undertake the strategic or organizational planning and decision making role of the company or enterprise. Establishments that administer, oversee, and manage may hold the securities of the company or enterprise. Establishments in this sector perform essential activities that are often undertaken, in-house, by establishments in many sectors of the economy. By consolidating the performance of these activities of the enterprise at one establishment, economies of scale are achieved.

The Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services sector comprises establishments performing routine support activities for the day-to-day operations of other organizations. These essential activities are often undertaken in-house by establishments in many sectors of the economy. The establishments in this sector specialize in one or more of these support activities and provide these services to clients in a variety of industries and, in some cases, to households. Activities performed include: office administration, hiring and placing of personnel, document preparation and similar clerical services, solicitation, collection, security and surveillance services, cleaning, and waste disposal services.

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