The two primary industry clusters in Spokane are regional health care delivery and government. Nationally, the health care sector is seeing signs of an industry recession and layoffs.
The Harvard Business Review thinks the growth in health care jobs is about to halt because the health care industry has been adding jobs faster than it is adding patient volumes – leading to long term, year over year declines in productivity. A long term year-over-year productivity decline is not sustainable.
This change has apparently already started and could have impacts on Spokane with its over-sized health care sector:
Hospitals, a reliable source of employment growth in the recession and its aftermath, are starting to cut thousands of jobs amid falling insurance payments and in-patient visits.
via Layoffs reflect hospital recession | The Clarion-Ledger | clarionledger.com.
Potential reductions are not a certainty but are a possibility.
The following chart illustrates the dramatic impact the health care sector has had on Spokane County employment. Watch the blue line near the top. If the recent decline were to accelerate, per the above linked news report, this would be of concern to the Spokane area.
The next chart is from the Washington Employment Security Department. Their horizontal chart has been flipped and rotated into a vertical format as it makes the sector size comparison easier for us humans. As you can see, the health care sector is the largest single employment sector in Spokane County.