Spokane Airport and PFD Chart Updates

I was asked to update some charts (this blog is not coming back to life but I may update some additional charts too).

Spokane International Airport and Felts Field Usage Trends


Passenger usage has been a flat line for 30 years. When passenger counts went up from 2003 to 2007, the Airport and local officials said passenger counts were a proxy for the local economy. A larger post on airport trends through 2014, including links to data sources, is here.

The next chart measures take offs and landings at Felts Field.


Data: US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, FAA

Spokane PFD Facilities Trend

image-9Data: Spokane PFD and Community Indicators of Spokane.

Since the economic depression in Spokane, the PFD’s attendance has rebounded but remains below the 2010, 2007 and 2001 peaks. A regression line drawn from 2001 to the present is a slight downwards trend.

Through 2015 end of year:


Reminder: The PFD conducted local economic impact studies for 2007 and 2010 and claimed these two years were representative of every year. 2007 and 2010 are represented by the two large spikes in the orange curve above; history shows they were not representative of the PFD’s normal impact on the Spokane economy.

How Many Events at the Spokane Arena Required the 2012 Seat Expansion?

In 2012, the Spokane PFD went to voters with a campaign to expand the Spokane Arena, saying the NCAA would require 12,000 “sellable” seats to hold future NCAA events at the Arena. The then 12,000 seat arena did not have enough seats to have 12,000 “sellable” seats (many seats are used by media, bands, cheer teams and others and were not “sellable”). The expansion led to a total of 12,638 potential seats in it largest seating configuration.

After the election was held, the NCAA reset the seating requirement  down to 10,000 “sellable” seats. The PFD kept this quiet and local media hid this change for months. See NCAA reduces seating requirements; Spokane PFD’s Arena expansion no longer required.

But at least the Arena would have more seats to fill at other events, they said.

How many events in 2015 filled the new seating capacity?


Source: 2015 Year End Report, page 52 (published by the Spokane PFD).


In 2014, a state high school basketball tournament exceeded 13,000 attendance, but this is not individual game attendance for two reasons:

  1. The maximum seating capacity for the Arena, when configured for basketball, is 12,210. The maximum seating for any configuration is 12,638.
  2. They combined attendance of multiple games played on the same day at the Arena (which is how the PFD typically presents attendance figures). Old event schedules indicate there were 3 to 8 games played each day of the tournaments. Thus, the Arena did not reach the new full capacity.

Related old posts:

EXCLUSIVE: No correlation between Convention Center and Airport usage

The Convention Center is said to be an economic driver that brings in outside visitors to Spokane, and this is the justification for continually expanding the facilities.  In just a few years, the PFD will seek additional taxes to expand again.

Does this economic driver work? Here is a comparison of airport usage versus convention center usage. Visually, there is no correlation; statistically, the R-squared value of the correlation is 1.6% (meaning zilch correlation).


If the Convention Center brings in outside visitors, they do not arrive by air or the number is so insignificant as to have no impact.

The air passenger data was scaled to a similar range to the Convention Center attendance for the purpose of comparison. In the chart above, the Y-axis shows convention center attendance; multiply by 10 for the air passenger number.

There is no correlation with jobs, either.

The top 2 largest events account for more than 25% of all usage:

  • Bloomsday, 47,346 people
  • PNQ Volleyball, 44,461 people

Outside of those two events, the remaining events average less than 700 people per day, the rest of the year. 

The Convention Center was just expanded so it can accommodate large events. Unfortunately, for a facility designed to accommodate up to 6,500 people, actual utilization is closer to 10% of best case, most of the year.

Spokane Convention Center Usage By Month


Spokane Arena By Month

For many months, the facility is almost unused.


Spokane INB Performing Arts Center

The INB Performing Arts Center is barely used for several months of the year.

SpokaneINBByMonthAll charts come from the SpokanePFD.org web site and the 2014 end of year annual report produced by the Spokane PFD.

Keep this in mind when in 2 or 3 more years, the Spokane PFD comes asking for more money for yet another expansion of their empty facilities.

Hoopfest Ironman

EXCLUSIVE: Spokane Airport Passenger usage charts, updated to 2015

Data through April 2015. Chart extrapolates the first 4 months to the full year for 2015.

With a slight growth in air passenger traffic, annual air passenger total usage is now roughly the same (corrected) still below 1995 and about the same as the year 2000.  Overall passenger use of the airport has been essentially flat for two full decades.

If recent growth continues, air passenger levels may reach the 2007 peak in about 2018 or 2019.






EXCLUSIVE: “as air traffic continues to grow” at Walla Walla Regional Airport

Sen. Murray, there’s that word again. I do not think it means what you think it means.

We explored this concept of “continued growth in aviation” in Spokane in the past, where a long term drop in aviation activities was termed “continued growth”.

Now, she’s talking about Walla Walla airport:

[Sen. Patty] Murray says the Walla Walla airport experienced a record number of travelers in May and the federal funds are a critical investment as air traffic continues to grow.

via 2 rural Washington airports receive federal grant funds | The Seattle Times.

Update: Rachel Dolezal, the white woman pretending to be a black woman, is just as nonsensical as a long term decline in aviation being called “growth” or a long list of other local myths and outrageous lies.  The root of this has little to do with black versus white – Dolezal is just another con artist creating a world built on lies. For many years, Forbes branded Spokane “The Scam and Fraud Capitol” of America – and Spokane continues to nourish that reputation at every opportunity. Its a community that has a firmly established cultural problem of deceit and fraud – within a community that is a gullible as they come. Rachel fit right in with some of GSI’s past lies about Spokane – but this time, its become an international story!

Update: Embarrassment spreads – NAACP says ideology is more important than integrity and honesty.  So far, Eastern Washington University has said the same thing and students do not seem to think Dolezal’s history as a serial liar is a problem. That is sad. What are they thinking?

Air Traffic Operations

Air traffic is definitely not continuing to grow:

image (2)

The Federal grant will be used to build new fencing and repair a taxiway.

But passenger usage is continuing to grow!

image (3)

Walla Walla is served by two daily Horizon (Alaska) air flights on Q400 turbo prop aircraft with about 57 passengers per flight.

Passenger usage continued to grow strongly into June thanks in part to “a two-year $250,000 federal grant to help promote and stabilize air service“: yep, the operations are subsidized by taxpayers, similar to Spokane’s once per day flight to Los Angeles.

Passenger usage is increasing, albeit, partially due to taxpayer subsidies for the operations. Will that growth continue when the subsidies go away?

The data is available on the web site of Walla Walla Regional Airport. The data on aircraft operations was compared with that provided by the FAA; the numbers are nearly the same. Aircraft operations counts are made by the control tower staff; changes in tower operational hours over the years can affect the counts. Logically, tower hours of operation track aircraft operations – more aircraft means a busier airport means more hours when flight ops are underway. Fewer aircraft ops means fewer hours when the tower is operating (aircraft may still use the airport when the tower is closed). Regardless, aircraft flight operations have collapsed at Walla Walla.

Data Tables Follow

Read more of this post

EXCLUSIVE: Spokane Airports Usage Trends thru 2014

Update: Data tables have been added to the “read more” section. Additional charts from other sources have been added to confirm the trend shown in these charts.

Frontier Airlines is leaving the Spokane market, leaving 5 airlines (Southwest, Delta, United, American/USA, Alaska). There were nine airlines serving Spokane in 2010. The decline is due to airline mergers (Delta/Northwest, American/US Airways, and Alaska now buys all the capacity of Horizon) and airlines leaving the Spokane market.

Fewer airlines means less competition and likely higher prices for Inland Northwest travelers (especially when only 1 airline serves a destination city). Update Jan 2 2015: Confirmed. Spokane has the highest airline charges in the PNW.

Spokane Airport Passenger Usage Trend

chart_1 (1)

Total Aircraft Operations at Felts Field Airport

chart_2 (2)

Non-Stop Destinations from Spokane and Number of Daily Flights

The orange column represents flight options for January 12, 2015. A different day might yield different results.

chart_1 (2)

Notable Changes in Service

  • Update March 2015: Alaska is introducing a twice per day turbo prop Q400 flight to Boise, starting in August 2015. This restores the Spokane-Boise route to 4 flights per day.
  • 4 fewer flights to Portland than 2011.
  • 6 fewer flights to Denver than 2011.
  • 1 more flight to Salt Lake City than 2011; one less than 2012.
  • Las Vegas is up by 1 and Boise is down by 1.
  • Los Angeles now has 1 daily, taxpayer subsidized flight
  • Chicago is served only in the summer.
  • Service to Sacramento and San Jose discontinued.
  • In 2014, Delta announced a summer time only, once per week on Saturday flight from Spokane to Atlanta. That flight does not currently appear on Delta’s summer 2015 schedule.

2/3ds of all Flights are to Two Airports: Seattle and Portland

chart_2 (1)


All of the flights to Portland and about half of those to Seattle are on board turbo prop (propeller) planes (this ratio of turbo props to jets changes over time as airlines change their fleet usage).

Data Sources

Passenger data is from the FAA and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. 2014 value is estimated from usage through October 2014. Some historical data is from the Spokane Airports web site, but Spokane Airports no longer appears to publish usage data. The passenger usage data starts in 1990 as that is the oldest data provided in the FAA and BTS online data sets.

Non-Stop destinations and flight counts are from looking at available flights departing Spokane for January 12th, 2015 using Expedia.com and Southwest.com (Southwest flights are not shown on Expedia).

This blog is an EXCLUSIVE report as local media have never publicized airport usage or non-stop destination trends. In fact, local media have previously reported on the “continued GROWTH” in aviation in Spokane even though aviation has been in a long term decline.

In 2001, 2005 and 2006, growth in passenger usage was a sign of economic success.

The terminal map lists “Delta, United, American” at Concourse B, but the Terminal B map shows “Delta, United, US Airways”.  However, American and US Airways merged … and operate a US Airways flight from Spokane to Phoenix under the US Airways name.

Extra credit assignments

  • Spot the bump in airport usage created by the expansions of the local Convention Center.
  • Do you know what “code sharing” is? Some people don’t. Korean Airlines and Aeromexico DO NOT FLY TO SPOKANE.
  • Anthony Gill writes “I wish the data weren’t recompiled. It’s hardly trustworthy as-is“. All of the above data is from SpokaneAirports.net, operated by Spokane Airports, the Federal Aviation Administration or the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The Convention Center data is from the Community Indicators of Spokane web site, operated by the City of Spokane and Eastern Washington University, and from the Spokane Public Facilities District. For extra credit, please identify how these sources are untrustworthy.
  • Is accurate data important for setting public policies or is it better to base policy on wishful thinking, exaggerations or lies? Do you think this data should be hidden from the public?
  • Explain why the airport is named “Spokane International Airport” (click link for hints!) since there have not been international flights in decades.

Data Confirmation

Here is an official chart from Spokane Airports Master Plan showing historical traffic – for those that doubt the accuracy of the charts:


Chart from EWU Community Indicators of Spokane web site (red line at top added to show the curve) through 2013:


Charts from Eastern Washington University study 1992 to 2004:



The following chart came from SpokaneAirports.net, the official web site of the Spokane Airports operation. Spokane Airports no longer appears to publish this information.  As you can see, the airport’s own chart shows a decline over the past five years. For those on drugs, this chart shows monthly (not annual totals) and compares month versus month for each of the five years.



Still think the data is untrustworthy Anthony Gill? 

Additional Reference

Still think the data is “hardly trustworthy as-is“? If you still think the data is “hardly trustworthy”, you might look into “cognitive dissonance” and the belief disconfirmation paradigm and how to deal with that.

Data Tables

All the data used in the charts follows.

Read more of this post

“The X Report”

A review of some “big picture” economic indicators for the Spokane area.

Spokane Airport passenger usage remains weak – now less than in 1995.

chart_1 (1)

We call this “growth”, of course. (See the Comments to this post to see how a rise in passenger use was called a positive economic indicator by local promoters in 2001, 2005 and 2006 but when passenger levels declined they now pretend passenger usage no longer matters. Right.)

Felts Field air operations fell off a cliff:

chart_2 (2)

Total air operations in the area have collapsed (but local political leaders refer to this as “continued growth of aviation!” – may be if we turn the chart upside down!)

CombinedSIAFeltsAllOps-3Non-stop year-round destination cities have declined from 18 to 11 (including the subsidized daily flight to Los Angeles).

The rate of growth in jobs (for the entire County) has slowed. The area is no longer producing jobs at the same rate as natural population growth (from births and inbound migration, over time). That means the population is getting larger but the number of jobs is not keeping up. Here’s a chart highlighting the slow down in job growth:


Spokane County non-farm jobs trend – mostly flat since 1998.


City of Spokane jobs have been going down for about two decades – there is no increase in net jobs since the mid 1990s.

Can you spot the increase in jobs created by the Convention Center expansions? The total number of jobs in the City of Spokane has continued to fall, even after passing their expansion initiatives. (Chart from US BLS, updated to early 2014.) The City of Spokane has flat lined. 


Unfortunately, Spokane was ranked as the worst metro area out of 100 for job growth in a 2012 poll.

While the United States has recovered nearly all jobs lost since the 2008 downturn, and Washington State has recovered more than all the jobs lost since the downturn, Spokane County has recovered about half the jobs lost. Here are the charts for the U.S. as a whole, the State of Washington, and then Spokane County.

(At the end of 2014, there are some indications that the US economy may be headed into a slowdown. If this happens, the effects on Spokane would be bad, very bad, as Spokane has not yet fully recovered from the 2008 downturn.) (deleted as the economic situation seems to have stabilized since that was written)


  • US jobs regained – about 100%
  • WA jobs regained – more than 100%
  • Spokane County jobs regained: 52% using seasonally adjusted totals, or 44% using non seasonally adjusted data

United States

(From US BLS)


Washington State


Spokane County


Median Family Income Compared to Other Washington Cities

Spokane’s economic situation is not good: Spokane ranks 53d out of 59 Washington cities for median family income

Spokane’s Housing Stock is Old – Highlighting the Limited Economic Growth in the Area

Growing cities, with growing economies, show newer housing – Spokane has a stock of old housing, indicating low growth. The boom years are obvious in this chart – 20% of homes here were built in 1900-1919 (mining boom), and 31% in 1940-1959  (aluminum processing boom, post World War II growth of families):


Here is a typical growing city housing age pattern (in this example, Olympia, WA) – in a modern, growing city, you can see that more homes are built to meet the demand of contemporary growth.


Spokane has essentially no growth and hence, very little new home construction compared to thriving cities. More example cities are here.

Home Sales

Chart of the number of home sales from 2000 to 2014 (only through spring as this chart is slightly out of date):

image The original chart for the above (from Trulia.com) used a logarithmic scale for the Y-Axis which makes the peaks and valleys nearly flat.  A software tool was used to convert the log scale chart into a linearly scaled Y-Axis to show the trend in a format that most readers understand.

The next chart shows that median sales prices are basically flat since 2006.


Income and spending lag:

This chart shows how taxable spending per household has trended downwards in the past decade. The data for this chart is based on retail sales taxes collected through 2011. Since then (not shown in chart), retails sales have begun to grow again.

The blue line shows real median household income while the red line is an indicator of spending per household.


Per Capita Income Trend Is Downwards

This chart has not been updated since 2008 but per WSU’s CORE research report, current per capita income is at 2007 levels. Per capita income is continuing to sink over the long term, relative to elsewhere. The lines in this chart indicate Spokane per capita income as a percent of the average per capita income in the state of Washington (red) and the U.S. as a whole (blue). Over time, the per capita income in Spokane, relative to everywhere else, goes down. Note that GSI will be happy to show you a chart of rising per capita income in the area – their chart is true too. But the problem is that Spokane incomes rise much slower than elsewhere such that over time, Spokane residents fall further and further behind the rest of the state and the country.

The Spokane County GDP per capita is unchanged from 2001 through 2011 (see bottom line in chart) – in other worlds, flat lined, like Convention Center attendance (well, not quite the same – the PFD’s facility usage actually went down over this period):


A chart of pay in Spokane County versus King County

Attracting high skilled talent for high paying job categories is tough due to the large difference in pay between Spokane and the other big city in Washington:


The next chart has not been updated but the trend remains the same today. Incomes in the rest of the state climb twice as fast as those in Spokane.  The blue line represents the rate of increase in Washington State; the red line is the rate of increase in Spokane County. Over 30 years, Spokane pay is falling further and further behind the rest of the state.


Transfer payments are now about 23% of area personal income.

Transfer payments are primarily Federal payments made without a contemporary service or product delivered in return. Examples include disability payments, unemployment compensation, Medicare/Medicaid payments, government pensions and other government benefit programs. In other words, almost $1 out of every $4 here is government payouts, not earnings from contemporary work. The problem is not that there are transfer payments – the problem is that the steady growth in transfer payments is not sustainable.

Spokane’s Heavily Subsidized Economy

The primary purpose of the Spokane Public Facilities District, like nearly all municipal convention centers, is to provide a tax subsidy to the local hotel and restaurant industry. This use of publicly funded convention centers as a hidden subsidy of local hotels is widely documented in the convention center industry literature. In Spokane, it is codified – one member of the five member Board of the Spokane PFD is required to be someone working in the hotel industry. There is no requirement that, say, the PFD Board include a member of the general public to represent the interests of Spokane residents and taxpayers (the peons do not rank in this community).

The long vacant Ridpath Hotel may get re-opened and turned into downtown condos some day. But only with substantial tax subsides. About 1/4th of the cost is proposed to be funded by tax credits issued after declaring the not very old hotel as a historic building.  The city is also proposing to give Federal Housing and Urban Development grants to the developer. More taxpayer subsidies for downtown.

The proposed Spokane Field House in downtown is an extension of the PFD’s subsidy program to local hotels. Taxpayers will fund a downtown sports complex with the goal of bringing in some outside visitors to fill downtown hotels and restaurants. This is an indirect subsidy to Walt Worthy’s “convention center” hotel across the street.

Indeed, the PFD’s own economic study shows who actually benefits – and its hotels and restaurants:


The sad thing about all these subsidies to the hotel industry is that they do not actually work.

Here is a chart of hospitality industry jobs in Spokane County.  After THREE expansions of the Convention Center, we have fewer jobs in the hotel industry than we did in 1999 when we first began expanding the Convention Center!

Hospitality industry employment chart from the US BLS from 1993 to 2014:


The downtown meme of ever expanding public facilities and more subsidies turns out not to have met the original claims for increasing jobs. Today we have fewer hotel jobs and fewer overall jobs in the City of Spokane than before the expansion. Expanding the Convention Center has resulted in FEWER JOBS.

Nothing happens in Spokane unless the local oligarchs are subsidized by the taxpayers. This is a form of transfer payments from poor people to developers.

Now we hang our hat on future medical school with an exaggerated economic benefit calculation  (local promoters nationwide engage in absurd and inflated exaggerations of all economic studies – most of these studies are not worth the digital ink they’ve spilled – same for Spokane). And of course, salvation will come with a heated pedestrian bike bridge!

Spokane needs real industry, designing and building products. From insect traps to pharmaceutical manufacturing to perhaps restoration of the lost high tech manufacturing sector, these are the sectors that generate real growth and jobs. But we just keep subsidizing downtown businesses that fail to deliver on their promises. Always have, and always will. Consequently, Spokane is going no where – the trends all remain negative (see charts above).

The Primary Economic Cluster in Spokane is Land Development

The primary economic cluster of Spokane is manipulating government so land speculators can profit. Here is a quote from Bob Herold of the Inlander:

“Well, I’ve learned that in Spokane, economic development most often begins and ends with making a profit off land speculation. It’s a cultural thing, and government’s job here is to help make the speculation pay off.”

And this business model works well for those who have influence. The largest media operator is one of the largest landowners in the region and has a long history of using their media influence to push government programs that benefit the owners (see The Fancher Report, the non-fiction novel Breaking Blue, or this blog for examples).

Contemporary examples include:  repeated Convention Center expansions (and their inability to meet any objectives) the “grand iconic unique in the world (except its notheated pedestrian/bike bridge, a proposed downtown “trolley” to benefit downtown, the “growing University District” (whose numbers show no growth) and the past and future for a light rail line that passes by the oligarchs’ properties runs from the underused airport to downtown and then to Liberty Lake (remember the two votes on that last decade?)

Update: Another economic cluster is government funded torture research hidden away in our small town. It’s a big industry in Spokane. Really big.


We cannot draw an accurate long term crime trend chart because of changes made in the reporting system last decade that resulted in a drop in crime reports. We’ll leave this topic with this chart – in 2011 and 2010, the auto theft rate in Spokane was the 4th highest in the nation but dropped in 2012 to 9th place:



A related crime problem is the culture and general corruption of the police in Spokane.  A week hardly goes by without yet another police scandal – from having sex on duty to running steroids and drugs to shooting people in the back of the head to killing Otto Zehm. This is likely a symptom of the difficulty in attracting high quality, high performing individuals to Spokane. And that is not just a police problem but one that impacts a wide swath of organizations both public and private.

We end up with local organizations having the same leadership for a quarter century, a sure sign of stagnation. From head dog catcher to GSI to the PFD to the STA -while some organizations are effective, some are not – yet their leadership is held on forever. There is no accountability for the PFD’s failure (by the core metrics of attendees and local jobs) or GSI’s long term ineffectiveness (as seen in the overall local economy numbers).

Bad leaders come to Spokane to retire on the job. And no one cares. In fact, one Washington State labor economist concluded that Spokane attracts unemployed people 🙂

Mental Health

Youth suicide rate is 4 to 6 times greater than the State of Washington and Washington’s suicide rate is higher than the national rate.


How Bad is the Suicide Rate?

(There are counties, especially with high populations of native American populations living in poverty, such as in Alaska, where the suicide rates are much higher.)

Update July 5, 2018

Spokane depression rate higher than state, national averages according to a study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

For each successful suicide, there are 7 hospitalizations for attempted suicides, and 15 ER visits for suicide. There are even more cases of depression that result in 9-1-1 calls to the police (but which do not end up in an ER), and even more cases than that of people who never seek help. (Also see these youth suicide statistics). Multiplying that times the rates in the chart above yields a staggering number of severely depressed people in the area. Throw in the reports of bodies turning up in parks and rivers and you get the picture.

Nearby Kootenai County, Idaho has the 2nd highest rate of suicide in Idaho.

The Spokane Regional Health District says health is an indicator of the economy. This is an indicator of despair and hopelessness. And its off the radar as recommendations for reporters discourage reporting of suicides.

Related to the above, the annual days of sunshine in Spokane is on par with Seattle. But don’t tell that to the Spokane Visitors Bureau which believes Spokane has 260 days of clear skies per year!

Telling Outright Lies is the Local Pastime

A selection of prominent lies and the liars who tell them is listed here.

The basic culture of Spokane seems to be based on lies and deceit, causing the area to repeatedly earn a designation as the Scam and Fraud Capitol of America.

The Problem is Ignorance 

The long term trend in the Spokane area economy has been poor – its been treading water for 15 years.

In spite of much media PR puffery, people have a sense that things are bad. And the data confirm it is a bad situation.

Much of the local media act as cheerleaders, engage in “errors of omission” (a method of telling a lie which fits right into the local culture), and hide poor performance of elected and non-elected leaders. Failed leaders are not held accountable – instead, long term declining attendance at Spokane Public Facilities District is defended and actively covered up by the local newspaper. A decline in airport usage is called “continued growth” – and not one person in Spokane’s media even bats an eye at the egregious lie.  Visit Spokane claims it is nearly always clear and sunny in Spokane. A local promoter misquotes a tech industry publication to falsely claim Spokane is a high tech hot spot (when the publication actually said Spokane is NOT a high tech hot spot).

To this day, the Spokesman-Review is pained to present data in easy to understand charts, even when the State provides the charts for free. For example, here is the September 2014 employment chart and here is how they babbled on about this in words:


The chart cannot be spun – Spokane has recovered about half of the jobs lost in the economic downturn while the State and the nation have recovered more than 100%. By hiding this from readers and viewers, Spokane’s local media censors the news through “lying by omission”.  Except for The Inlander, perhaps. (Note – former SR staffer Ryan Pitts left the SR to work on CensusReporter, a tool to make it easy for reporters to obtain Census data in easy to read charts. Tools exist. It’s not hard to illustrate stores with charts. But its hard to spin actual data.)

The outright lies and exaggerations are non-stop – hence, Spokane remains the scam and fraud capitol of America – but the zero credibility local media itself is complicit in re-telling and defending the lies (follow the links on this blog to see specific examples of the local media’s participation).

When land speculation is one of the top 3 industry clusters and the media is conflicted with land ownership and development,  reporting is warped.

The public has been intentionally kept in the dark as to the true state of Spokane – but many have seen these issues for a long time. Out of town visitors arrive and often the first thing they say is “Spokane looks like a run down dump” (check out the weeds growing out of the streets and sidewalks in August and you can see why).

This blog shed a light on the truth that has been hidden from the public – by showing the actual data, in simple to read charts, that directly contradict the local memes. Data is the enemy of propagandists in the local media.

The X Report

This site will remain on line as “The X Report“, just as “The Fancher Report” (summary here) lives on today, or how local corruption is documented in “Breaking Blue” or at Camus Magazine and other web sites.  It is no longer safe to publish skeptical inquiry on the Internet.

Before I moved to Spokane, an old friend who grew up here said, “X, Spokane is just a small town. Only bigger.”

Was not sure what he meant back then – but now I know: And he was right!

Nothing has changed in decades. Three decades of economic studies reached identical conclusions and were filed on dusty shelves never to be looked at again. Spokane remains behind the times, never reaching up to its potential as the 2nd largest city in Washington – but always hoping for an external savior (the current meme is the medical school brouhaha) to drop in and save the day. Before that it was regional health care. Before that Spokane was going to be an information technology center on par with Austin, Texas or may be even Silicon Valley. Before that it was going to be a manufacturing mecca. So we come up with an incoherent cluster strategy for economic growth.

But nothing has fundamentally changed. At this point, its down to more land speculation and more transfers to the oligarchs who will bleed the cash cow dry as long as they can keep it bleeding. And not one god damned local politician gives a hoot at the obvious decay and decline – they just continue to play along to earn bennies for themselves.

And because of that, this might be the very last post on this blog. The web site will stay online and be known as “The X Report”.


This blog is taking a break. No idea if it will return. Hard to imagine but 1/4th of all the posts made on this web site were never published! There are nearly 200 posts sitting in draft form 🙂 They were not published for many reasons including timeliness (the information was useful for a limited time), insufficient time to complete the post, insufficient data, or for a few I feared I would be run out of town if I let them fly. Ouch!

Spokane Airport Passenger trend update

There has been a nice increase in passengers year-over-year during the first part of 2014.  Alaska and Delta have announced additional flights starting next year.

2014 is currently running +1.55% over 2013. This change is too small to see in the chart, however but it is a real change. It is good to see these positive developments.

June2014AirportHere is the trend in month over month changes. As you can see, the year started out with strong year over year growth, but the month-over-month increases declined as the year went on. June is up by +1.55% but not shown in the table below.

Current passenger usage is about -9% below 1996 and -14% below 2007 – it will take many years of continuous passenger growth to return to those levels.

Alaska and Delta have announced more flights starting in 2015 which means they expect to see growth in passengers through SIA. If that new growth continues, this could eventually reverse the long term slightly downward trend in place since 1996.

Delta adding 4 flights on the Seattle-Spokane route

This is good news – Delta adding four Spokane flights to Seattle

Hopefully the long term decline in air travel to/from Spokane can be turned around. The following charts are generally months to 2 years old and have not been updated since their creation.  In a broad brush sense, the charts are still close to today’s operations. See notes, below.

The majority of flights from Spokane are to Seattle, Portland and Denver. Since this chart was made, the number of Denver flights has gone down a bit. After Southwest dropped out of the Spokane-Seattle market, the number of flights fell to 16 but will rise again to 20, this fall, with the addition of the Delta flights.

spokaneairportcolumnsNext chart correct through 2012. Has not been updated since.

AirportFlightsTrendIn the following chart, two additional non-stop destinations have resumed service – a government subsidized daily flight to Los Angeles and a once per week flight to Hawaii, although that may be going away.   This chart shows only year round destinations so the seasonal Hawaii flight would not be included anyway.


CombinedSIAFeltsAllOps-3Since the beginning of the year, there has been a slight increase in passengers versus last year. An update to this chart would show a slight upward curve at the end.


New online game – spot the Spokane Convention Center expansion bump in local employment!

The Spokane Convention Center is building its 3rd expansion since the year 2000.

They promised us more jobs – can you spot the jobs increase in the City of Spokane?

Total jobs in the City of Spokane are now less than in 1996  (data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics):LAUCT536700000000005_742370_1398301192417

Good thing Spokane has such a booming economy with huge job growth typical of the State!  Oh wait, its once fast growing job market collapsed and has since flat lined.

Of course, they also promised more jobs and more visitors. Surely this shows up in the hotel industry employment, as a great proxy for visitors to Spokane? After all 54% of all money spent by convention center visitors, they say, goes to the hotel industry.

Hospitality (hotels) industry employment in the City of Spokane since 1993 (data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics):


Just eyeballing the chart the low point is about the high point in 1997. Hmmmm.

Well, at least they have increasing attendance at the PFD facilities, thanks to all those expansion projects!

The Spokesman-Review says the PFD is awesome and doing fantastic!  And we all know everything the Spokesman-Review publishes is highly accurate, never spun as a propaganda – of course!


Okay, so all those visitors are not hiding out at the Convention Center. Where could they possibly be?

They said expansion would produce more visitors so the airport surely shows lots more passengers?

SIA Jun 2013


Sure is a mystery to us. They promised more jobs and more visitors. They must be hiding here somewhere. May be selling prostitution on East Sprague or door-to-door meth sales?

They could not possibly have lied to us, could they? Could they? …

I know, let’s build a Spokane Field House downtown because that will surely increase visitors and jobs! Then add a heated pedestrian/bike bridge. But why stop there? Let’s build a downtown trolley! And then light rail to the airport! 

But whatever we do, don’t let the Spokane Indians build a casino/shopping/entertainment/convention center complex because the Spokane area doesn’t need more jobs. And besides, it would compete with the downtown business cartel. Oops. We were not supposed to say that.

Related: All those self promotion programs to attract tourists dollars  look to be a fraud too.

Keywords: Bloomsday Run, Lilac Festival, Parade, Marching Bands, Floats, Walk

Spokane Area Airport Operations Update

Spokane “International” Airport passengers per year. 2013 data through November and pro-rated to end of 2013. Data comes from SIA. Current passenger usage at SIA is about the same as in 1995.

Update in March: Passengers totals increased year over year for December and January which might finally signal the beginning of a turn around in airport usage. This is not reflected in these charts.


Next chart compares year over year – 2013 is the bottom light blue color. Chart comes from SIA web site.


Table showing the changes in passenger counts by carrier.  Frontier, Southwest and United have seen large percentage drops year over year. Table comes from SIA November report.  Official response from SIA is that “passenger demand remains strong” (huh?)


Data for Felts Field operations comes from the FAA. Chart title is incorrect – this is through Nov 2013 pro-rated to end of 2013.


Next chart shows combined all operations at SIA and Felts Field, over time since 1990. Data is from the FAA and the US Bureau of Transportation  Statistics. Does not include Fairchild AFB operations.


Spokane Airport Operations

Data through April 2013, with the trend extended to end of 2013. This trend line is extended to the end of the year because the chart shows annual totals – therefore 2013 must be estimated.


2013Apr-FeltsFieldWe look at airport passenger data as a rough proxy for the state of the local economy. The data is not a reflection on the airport management or staff (the airport is well run).

Casino had no impact on Air Force tanker decision

From Daniel Walters at the Inlander.com comes this report:

Some continued to speculate about encroachment issues. “It would be very helpful to know whether the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino figured in the decision, if only to put the issue to rest for good,” the Spokesman-Review wrote in an editorial last week.

The answer is: No, the casino didn’t come into play.

“The proposed multi-use facility near Fairchild AFB was not considered in the decision process,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek says in a statement. While the Air Force assessed existing encroachment at Fairchild — like the mobile home park in the base’s crash zone — it was never a “key finding or a major consideration.” In fact, in the initial criteria used to select candidates for the tankers, encroachment was worth only a measly two points out of 100.

via Flight Diverted.

The Inlander provides journalism you will not find anywhere else in Spokane. Check them out.

The casino and encroachment argument  appears to have been about reducing competition for the Northern Quest Casino and the Downtown Business Partnership, as many suggested. Go here and page down to “The Proposed Spokane Tribe Casino, Hotel and Convention Facility” to better understand how the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino is a competitive threat to NQC and downtown Spokane.

McConnell, Altus AFB and Pease ANG Base selected for new KC-46A tanker roles

Fairchild loses bid to host new tankers – Spokesman.com – May 22, 2013.

Fairchild lost out to McConnell AFB in Kansas, Altus AFB in Oklahoma, and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire (in 2018) according to the Kansas news reports. Three of the four bases were selected for tankers and/or training facilities, with Spokane’s Fairchild and North Dakota’s AFB as the only bases receiving no part of the KC-46A program at this time.

Update: US Air Force press release. Says McConnell had the lowest construction costs for deploying the new tankers. And also the best geographic location for the mission.

(Pease AFB was closed in 1991 and now houses an air guard refueling unit. After the USAF closed there, the State proposed building a casino on the site.)

Depending on future funding, additional tanker bases, including Fairchild AFB, could be selected in the years to come.

The proposed Airway Heights casino is not mentioned in any of the news reports as having anything to do with site selection (USAF will explain their decision later).  Is the casino a factor? Consider that the Las Vegas McCarran Field airport is the 8th busiest airport in the world in terms of take offs and landings and sits immediately adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, the largest concentration of casinos in the world.  That did not stop Las Vegas from expanding either the airport or casinos.

Per the next post below, Spokane area aviation has been in a descent since its peak year of 1993.

1993 is also the year that Rich Hadley was hired as CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, which later merged with the local economic development agency and became Greater Spokane, Inc.

In the early 1990s, the city was concerned about losing retail business in the downtown core, businesses moving out of the area, and there were fears about the possible closure of Fairchild AFB.  Nothing’s changed in 20 years. Except that aviation operations have plummeted and wages have fallen further behind over time (see how average wages lag the state and nation and see this chart of average wages).

Surely it is purely coincidental, but the aviation numbers have been in decline ever since Hadley was hired. With this spectacular flame out, perhaps it is time for Hadley to retire and for the agency to seek new blood with a 21st century mindset with fresh, new ideas, and not just more of the same that has not worked out so well. (Well said).

Looks like Fairchild AFB will not be “encroached” by KC-46As!

And what ever happened to the 737MAX Assembly plant “formal bid” that was to be in Spokane?

Spokane Airport and Felts Field Airport Operations over Time

Read below to learn about a whopper lie being told by local politicians and local media about our local airports …

Historical Passengers Trend at Spokane Airport


Data is from the FAA. 2013 is estimated based on the January-March passenger volume.

Expectation is that SIA will see an increase in passengers this year. Allegiant Air introduced a weekly flight to Hawaii early this year, but shortly after announced that August might be the last flight for the new service, at least for this year. Delta accepted a $1 million mostly taxpayer funded subsidy to provide once per day service to Los Angeles, flying a 79 seat plane starting in June. The new flight will add to the monthly passenger totals for SIA. (Non-subsidized service on this route was ended in 2004 and ended again in 2008.)

Felts Field Historical Air Operations Trend

Felts Field seems to have turned a corner and may have reversed its long term flight operations decline although the data suggests this could be a shift of general aviation operations from SIA to Felts.


Combined Spokane + Felts Field Airports Operations

In April, Spokane Airports sued the FAA over a proposed closure of the Felts Field Air Traffic Control Tower (closure since rescinded). Spokane Airports argued that SIA and Felts Field are a combined operation, listing a combined flight total for both.

Since Spokane Airports views SIA and Felts as a combined operation here is a chart of the combination showing  all flight operations at the two airports – air carrier, air taxi, general aviation and military – keep your eye on the orange section of the chart:


Data is from the FAA and the US Bureau of Transportation  Statistics. Year 2013 flight operations is estimated from Jan-Mar 2013 totals. Does not include Fairchild AFB.

  • Aviation operations have been declining for nearly a quarter of a century – since 1993.
  • Combined air operations have declined by 43% since 1993.
  • And SIA passenger levels are less than they were in 1996.

And this is reported as “continued growth!”…

How did local leaders and news report this decline?

By telling outright lies:

Air traffic and air travel to and from Spokane is in decline and local promoters call this” CONTINUED GROWTH”?

Everything about this is embarrassing for Spokane – the decline itself, lying about the decline, covering it up, and the inability of local media to fact check anything.

More on this lack of ethical behavior on another day.

Why look at passenger and general aviation flight totals?

Passenger counts at isolated airports have historically been used as a proxy for local economic activity. All other Pacific NW airports have seen increases in passenger usage (except Boise). By the numbers (and not wishful fantasy) this suggests Spokane’s economy is weak – certainly not where it could be.

General aviation is used for personal flights, flight training, business flights and other functions including air ambulances and more. Because general aviation flight may be expensive, it too may act as a proxy for local economic strength. However, there are other factors that influence general aviation flight activity and this may not be a reliable indicator.

Spokane Area Economic Update Charts

(Update: By request I have turned comments back on for some recent posts. They were turned off, mostly, a year ago, since I spend little time on the blog now, and comments require monitoring. Hope that helps and thank you for your suggestions, ideas and corrections.)

The State’s “adjusted” employment data for Spokane County (thru November 2012) shows an upward spike:


The US government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics “raw” data for Spokane County  (through November) shows a subdued seasonal rise in jobs. (Data is from the US BLS “One Screen” database). In a traditional post recession recovery, we should be seeing a job growth rate similar to how it was before the recession took hold (pre-2008).


Hospital, Manufacturing, Education, Convention Center Attendance and More, after the break …

Read more of this post

Spokane Economic Indicators Update


The State’s “adjusted” numbers through October show a sizable increase in local employment, which if real, is good.

The State’s local labor economist says its due to private sector job growth – but then cites construction projects done for the government as examples of private sector job growth, and  leaves out the SIA snow equipment building, the Felts airport paving, north side freeway construction and so on. Is it really private sector job growth when the work is  funded by the government? Per GSI’s  local economic status reported by Avista economist Grant Forsyth, government accounts for 55% of the $s spent on permitted construction in 2012. About half of Spokane’s economic activity comes directly or indirectly from the government.

Here’s the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “raw” data for Spokane County prior to adjustment, and only through September (October raw data not yet available).  Prior to “local adjustment” the BLS trend line is still going down:

More on Unemployment, Avista’s review of the local economy, and Airport trends.

Read more of this post

Downtown business development troubles, and Southwest ends flights to Portland

NEWS – Development – How young developer Rob Brewster’s early runaway success sputtered in Spokane.

Notes that hardly any Spokane businesses are growing “robustly”.

Elsewhere today, Southwest Airlines announced discontinuance of non-stop service from Spokane to Portland.

Read more of this post

Spokane Employment/Unemployment, Real Estate and Airport Usage Trends

Spokane Unemployment

Unemployment rises to 9.1% in May.

Total non-farm employed improves slightly but remains on par with year 2005 levels – while the overall population has increased.

Data source for charts

Real Estate and More after the break

Read more of this post

Spokane Employment, Real Estate, Demographics by Neighborhood, Local News and Social Media

Spokane Employment

As of January 2012, Spokane’s unemployment reached 9.8% in January (update: 10.1% in February). There have been a very large number of business closings, particularly in the retail sector, from January through March. February employment data will be available on March 29th.

Non-farm employment fell to 201,200 in January 2012 which is 200 fewer jobs than in January 2011.

In January 2012, the total # of non-farm employed reached an all time low since 2005. Stated another way, January 2012 is the lowest non-farm employment we have seen in this recession.

  • 1 out of every 10 jobs disappeared from the peak to today; at the peak, the unemployment rate was 5% to 6%.

But things are better now in Spokane because the unemployment rate went from 10.9% to 9.8%.  Doublethink!

Data comes from the Washington Employment Security Department web site.

The State has not updated the following chart so I drew in the curve at far right to position the curve to the 201,200 level as of January 2012:

In terms of people holding jobs, Spokane has seen no recovery from the Great Recession and has just reached a new all time employment low for this recession.  

People may have given up looking for work, moved outside the County to find jobs, become self-employed or be in jail. That could explain a declining unemployment percentage while the number of workers continues to fall.

Spokane Average Home Selling Price Falls 6.5% year over year

35% of home sales are distressed properties (such as foreclosures) but unit sales increased by 41%, partially due to a large percentage  increase in a small number. Prices are expected to fall the remainder of 2012.

Educational Attainment by Neighborhood

27% of adults have a 4-year college degree or higher but most of the college educated live in three neighborhoods on South Hill or around Whitworth University. As we move away from those neighborhoods, the college educated rate drops to around 18-21%, and 10% or lower for the bulk of Spokane, north of the Spokane River (but excluding Whitworth University neighborhood).

Spokane’s college educated population is strongly skewed to South Hill and the Whitworth University area. Outside of those two neighborhoods, the population is comparatively poorly educated. I compared the above percentages to areas in King County, the San Francisco Bay area, and Austin, Texas, known for strong economies. In all but one of those zip codes I checked, the percent of adults having a 4-year college degree or higher ranged from 43% to 75%. This was not a large sample of zip codes, was probably not random and it could be wrong but … it hints that the educational attainment of Spokane adults is not where it ought to be for local economic success.

Today there is little demand by Spokane employers for college educated workers. As seen in this chart,  few job vacancies require a 4-year degree or higher.


Median Household Income by Neighborhood

There is a correlation with college education and median household income – compare to the chart above:

Demographic data, organized by Zip Code, are available online from numerous web sites. The City-Data web site and Zipskinny.com were used for the above charts.

Spokane’s Invisible Empty Building Problem

Spokane is filled with vacant buildings – all of which are apparently invisible as no one talks about this publicly.

There are 18 invisible empty store fronts inside the Valley Mall (first weekend in March); there were 22 (+ or -) invisible empty store fronts inside the Northtown Mall.

In the downtown area, there are entire blocks of invisible, mostly empty buildings.

Drive down Sprague Ave from Sullivan to Mullan/Argonne Roads in Spokane Valley – I counted so many For Sale/For Lease signs that it worked out to an average of a sign every 3 seconds while driving along that 2 1/2 mile stretch of road. Turn right on Mullan Rd and see the same # down the next mile to I-90.

All of these empty buildings are invisible. They do not exist. There is no public discussion. There is no media coverage. In fact, we do not need to envision a better Spokane because Spokane is already perfect!

Oddly, in 2006, the news reported that a 4% retail vacancy rate is a “healthy market” but in 2012 a 12% vacancy rate on South Hill is a “booming” retail market. So what would a 24% retail vacancy rate in  Spokane Valley be? How about “One of the brightest spots in the mix is Spokane’s bubbling retail sector“?

Orwellian Doublethink is alive and well in Spokane.

Retail sales up in State – except in Spokane

Confirmation of what this web site has documented through actual data – Spokane’s economy continues to slide while the rest of the state is growing. (This update added April 28, 2012).

Spokane News Media and Their Social Media Presence


The following two charts are obsolete and contained two errors and have been replaced by the above charts:

** KHQ TV and the Spokesman-Review are both owned by the Cowles family business and perhaps should be treated as a single number of  about 43,500 on Facebook.

Each organization also has staff members with Twitter accounts. The above lists only the number of followers for their “main” Twitter user ID.

Spokane Police Lottery

The odds of winning the Washington Lottery are about 1 in 7 million. Much better odds are to become a Spokane Police officer, act dimwitted on or off the job, get up to five years paid administrative leave (vacation?), then get fired and sue the city and walk off with a million $ payout. The odds of winning the SPD lottery are about 1 in 100, far better than buying a Washington Lottery ticket.

Updates to this web site are made on an infrequent basis. May be there will be more updates, or may be there will not be more updates.

Actually there is going to be another update real soon that was written last year, never published but recently brought up to date. Stay tuned.


Independent online resources where you can monitor the long term trends yourself. They have the data used in the charts on this web site, and often have the same charts too.  This blog has brought up nothing new – everyone else knows what is going on!

Due to a recent Court ruling in Oregon, I may take this entire web site offline in the future. If the government provides more First Amendment protections to “journalists” than to citizens and the government decides who is a journalist, then what happens to the First Amendment  freedom of the press concept?  Basically, the First Amendment is thrown away as the government selectively choose who is a journalist and who is not.