Spokane Employment and Unemployment data

(This was first published on Dec 15, 2014, but later moved out of sequence, to this location on the blog.)

Spokane County total non-farm employment, as reported by the Washington ESD:

WAEmp

 

Chart 1

Total non-farm employment, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

latest_numbers_SMU53440600000000001_2004_2014_all_period_M10_data-1

 Chart 2

The Washington ESD data is said to come from the BLS. However, a close inspection reveals a difference in the most recent data. By taking the WA ESD data and then subtracting the BLS data, we create a new table showing the difference in the values:

DeltaWAvsBLS

Table 1

As shown in the table, starting in late 2013, Washington ESD adjusts the BLS data upwards. In 2014, the total non-farm employment count has been adjusted upwards. There may be valid reasons for these adjustments but no explanation is provided.

We next compare the counts released of past years, as reported in 2013, to the count of past  years, as reported this month in 2014. Here is June 2013 report:

2011juneemp

Chart 3

Look at the January row in Chart 1, above, and compare the values to the January row in Chart 3.  Specifically, look at January 2009:

  • In 2013, ESD reported January 2009 employment of 210,800.
  • In 2014, ESD reported January 2009 employment of 213,900.

The employment numbers are estimates – not an actual count and there is an associated error range or confidence interval about the estimate. Based on the later revisions, it seems this estimate is about + / – 1.5 percentile points from later revisions. That is wide confidence interval.

This blog presents the WA ESD charts and data but has previously seen unexplained revisions in even the current monthly report. For that reason, the BLS data series is preferred.

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Moody’s ranks Spokane #289 (4th quintile) for employment growth and identifies these Strengths and Weaknesses:

Strengths

  • Low cost of doing business, especially office rents and energy.
  • Large healthcare industry provides stability.

Weaknesses

  • Dearth of high-wage, export-oriented industries.
  • Incomes are further below the national average than living costs.
  • Little exposure to aerospace manufacturing and few avenues to capitalize on growth elsewhere in Washington.

Hmmm … that must be in error because Greater Spokane says:

Our region’s Aerospace industry is soaring to new heights with area businesses taking full advantage of the need for new and efficient aircraft. Worldwide, the Aerospace industry is booming with innovation, new products and increased competition.

Spokane and the Inland Northwest are home to more than 120 manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and organizations related to the worldwide aerospace industry. With a diversified product and service base, Spokane businesses are landing dozens of contracts each year.

Actually, this is probably an indicator that Spokane’s leading export commodity is, unfortunately, bull shit. By the ship load.

Meanwhile, Spokane Rock Products laid off a big chunk of their asphalt paving division – read the comments to the news report (in Spokane, the comments frequently explain the real story). Far less housing construction means less road paving and fewer workers needed.

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