Troubling Indicator for Spokane Job Market

Chart showing total non-farm jobs in the Spokane County MSA, not seasonally adjusted – from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BLSNotAdjusted2

Spokane’s job market has two employment peaks every year. During periods of growth, the 2nd peak is higher than the 1st peak. During declines, the 2nd peak is lower than the 1st peak.

Look to the right of the chart – 2013 is the first time since 2008 when the 2nd peak has declined from the 1st, signaling a possible downturn in Spokane employment.

Compare this to the State of Washington (from WA State Employment and Security Department) showing a steady trend of continued growth.

ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_TotalNonFarmEmploymentSeries1_UltraChart1_72

After the data is “seasonally adjusted”, the BLS produces this chart. Note the sharp drop off at the right edge of this chart, as if the local job market is crashing. That is a sharper drop off than occurred at any time except the first 3 months of 2009.

BLSAdjusted

The sharp downturn coincides with the latest expansion of the Spokane Public Facilities District’s (PFD) Convention Center.

Hopefully this trend will not continue in 2014 but it will be many months – perhaps the end of the year – before we know how this will turn out.

Action items

  • If you are thinking of moving out of Spokane in 2014, get your home on the market early this year.
  • If you are thinking of moving to Spokane, make sure you have a solid source of long term employment or income lined up before you arrive.
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