“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!

Report claims Spokane roads among worst in State

Nothing in this “report” should be taken too seriously. It’s from the impressive sounding “TRIP Transportation Research Group”, a “non profit”.

Here’s the lead:

A new report released Tuesday shows Spokane has some of the worst road conditions in Washington State. It said drivers spend hundreds of dollars a year fixing their cars because streets in the area are so bad.

The report was funded by civil engineering groups, road paving, bridge construction, asphalt and other materials suppliers. The report strings together lots of numbers with scary comments that we are all going to die unless we quickly borrow or print money and hand it over to them.

This “study” is from a “non-profit” funded  by the industry and the “non profit” label provides cover for government lobbying. Their Board of Directors is almost entirely road construction executives whose companies benefit from government spending on construction. This is disclosed in their IRS Form 990.

Local lobbyist GSI jumps on the bandwagon, as usual.

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.

Annual Days of Sunshine in Spokane

The weather this spring is awesome, isn’t it?

But how does Spokane’s weather stand up, by the numbers?

Annual Days of Sunshine in Washington – Current Results.

Spokane’s days of sunshine per year (on average) is surprisingly similar to Seattle. Not what many of us might have expected.

For Washington:

Some how, Spokane PR has converted 174 days into 260 days of sunshine, which is not true. (Update July 2018: Cities all across the U.S. claim they have “300+” days of sunshine-but it is completely bogus. Long ago, someone measured the number of days in which the sun shone for at least one minute. Yes, one minute. If there was a brief bit of sunlight on an otherwise cold and snowy day, that got counted as a “day of sunshine”. The metric is bogus and useless – yet visitor bureaus and local chamber of commerce groups routinely promote their city as having “300+” days of sunshine. Spokane manages to only rank 260 days with at least one minute of sunshine, however.)

For Oregon:

For Idaho:

How are those weather terms defined?

  • If the sun shines for 70% of the day time or more, its a “Sunny” day.
  • If the sun shines for between 21% and 69% of the day, its “Partly Sunny or Partly Cloudy” day. What’s the difference? The sun doesn’t shine at night so we call it “Partly cloudy”.
  • If the sun shines for less than 20% of the day, its “Cloudy”.

“6 Things That Can Kill Your City’s Startup Community”

6 Things That Can Kill Your Citys Startup Community.

The co-founder of TechStars explains why communities fail to have an entrepreneurship community. He lists six broad categories that hinder startup and economic growth – and incredibly, Spokane ranks high on all six categories (most of which have been previously written about on this blog – See the History of Spokane Economic Plans and Recommendations, in links to right of this page).

This seems a reasonable summary that matches up with Spokane and may give hints as to how to overcome the problems …

Read more of this post

Updated: Social Media presence of Local Media in Spokane

These charts are up to date as of today.

Update March 2013: The new Facebook.com/SpokaneNews web site is crossing through 18,000 shortly and will surpass KREM this spring and probably surpass KHQ by the end of this year.

The previous chart had an error for the Twitter followers of two of the news organizations. Inadvertently, the # of web feeds being followed by the news organizations, rather than their number of followers, had been used in the original chart first published in March of 2012.

Some one with a local news organization identified the error and alerted us to the problem – thank you!

The numbers above refer to the “main news” page – at each organization there are typically pages run by individual departments and reporters and these are not included in the totals.


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.

Spokane’s North Corridor Half Billion $ Boondoggle

Corridor funding may hit dead end – Spokesman.com – Sept. 4, 2011.

This is the half billion $ freeway from nowhere to nowhere in north Spokane.

Spokane’s economy is fading because leadership blew money on projects that did not deliver a positive return on investment to the whole community but instead benefited powerful and well connected rent-seekers siphoning public money for projects that benefit themselves.

Read more of this post

Spokane’s economic plan du jour

Picture of the Duncan Garden at Manito Park an...

Image via Wikipedia

Spokane’s future industry clusters:

  1. Retirees and transfer payments
  2. Health care services and health care academics
  3. Government, including education
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Low skill, low wage categories including retail, restaurants, hotels, recreation, trucking, warehousing.
  6. Various small categories including low skilled and high skilled workers.

Categories 1, 2 and 3 will account for 60+% of the local economy. Here’s the number of workers, per category, flipped from horizontal to vertical to present the relative size differences.  Retirees and transfer payments are not shown in the chart but would be in the top 3.

Here is the impact of transfer payments. As you can see, transfer payments are a large component of the local economy. For more information on transfer payments please see “Trend of Transfer Payments into Spokane County“.

Data Data from washington.reaproject.org


Previously, many people retired from Southern California and took their large real estate capital gains to low cost Spokane. That source of retirees is diminished due to the housing collapse and its return in the future is not predictable. This is an important driver for health care, housing and service sectors.  Inbound migration may be at reduced levels for a long time.


The State adopted an industrial clustering policy where the state selects the industry clusters to be supported in each region. The primary clusters for Spokane are health care, education, and trucking and warehouse operations. Manufacturing has been in a slow national decline for 30 years.

Health care is on a growth streak due to retirees, a doubling in individual use of medical services over the past 30 years, and more recently by expectations of “ObamaCare” leading to an expectation of increased demand for services primarily paid for by someone else.


The loss of retirees from Southern California produces risks to the area’s current strategy and may be why the 2011’s local economy continues to remain stuck well below 2007 levels. On the plus side, the nation’s overall large “baby boom” approaches retirement years. However, where they choose to settle in their retirement years will have a big impact – and some think relocating as part of retirement may be thing of the past, not of the future.

There is a risk that the health care act might not play out as expected. It is possible that court challenges may limit the growth in the health business sector.

There is a risk that shifting more money into health care services without addressing the exorbitant prices charged and excess consumer demand for health services paid for by other people means less money for the production side of the economy. This is not a sustainable path.

Spokane’s future is based on retirees and health care – but that future has risks. And a big risk is there is no plan B.

Low Wages Are By Design

Greater Spokane says our region’s primary competitive advantage is low wages and low land and housing costs (or stated another way, poverty). Per Greater Spokane, our region’s competitive advantage is low prices. And no one in power wants that to change.

Spokane will be the state’s low wage, low cost housing and low cost land destination. This appears to be by design.

Outside of the key clusters, wages and opportunities will be limited.

The substantial quantity of data collected on this web site, and reviews of all the economic plans going back to the 1980s show that the chronic low wages and limited opportunities are endemic to Spokane. Every one of the plans mentions these problems. These problems remain because not many people want to embrace change – low wages are a feature and are by design.  The area is settling into a future as a comfortable government-funded enclave of government and health care workers, and retirees collecting benefits.

Everything on this website has been mentioned before, often many times, in prior economic studies about Spokane. What I present on this website is not my opinion but is backed by data and numerous studies. This view is shared by business leaders of the past, by various politicians, current and former academic administrators and many more. The data tell this story, not me.


See the recommendations links at the right of this page. Lots of bad decisions were made in the past.


It’s been an interesting experience to go from wondering why so many businesses disappeared to finding out what really happened. The answer was not at all what was expected.

Unfortunately, no one cares. It’s always been this way in Spokane. As a friend said to us in the 90s, “It’s just a big small town, only bigger.” So true. (Well, at least one other person gets it…)

And nothing will change.

This web site will now be updated primarily for major events or changes.

Spokane moves up in the national rankings

Spokane has the fourth-highest car theft rate in the country

via Spokane, Yakima are U.S. auto theft hot spots | Puget Sound Business Journal.

Was at #35 in 2008, #18 in 2009 and now #4 in 2010.

Think the local news will cover this? Nah. This is from the Puget Sound Business Journal. Spokane will stick with happy talk news.

Correction and Update: Several local news outlets have reported this.

KXLY says that auto insurance rates will likely go up for Spokane area residents as a consequence. Due to budget cutbacks, the State Patrol is closing its auto theft investigation unit. Party on dudes!

Here is a graphic and data table from the NICB Report.

2010 Ranking 2009 Ranking
1.  Fresno, Calif. 5
2.  Modesto, Calif. 2
3.  Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. 3
4.  Spokane, Wash. 18
5.  Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 16
6.  Sacramento/Arden-Arcade/Roseville, Calif. 11
7.  Stockton, Calif. 4
8.  Visalia-Porterville, Calif. 8
9.  San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, Calif. 7
10. Yakima, Wash. 6

The above supports my evolving view that Spokane’s economic situation is extremely bad. Not because of the auto theft rate, per se, but because of where it falls in the list, surrounded by devastated California cities. This suggests the economic climate here is on par with some of the worse in the nation, particularly in California’s Central Valley region, which was gutted by the housing meltdown.

Read more of this post

Spokane’s Weather really does suck this year

If you think Spokane’s weather sucks this year, you are not mistaken.

I just looked up the total number of days with precipitation in Seattle versus Spokane for the month of May:

  • Spokane – 17 days with precipitation – including 2 days with “trace” amounts
  • SeaTac Airport – 14 days with precipitation (corrected from 13)
  • # of Fair weather days in Spokane for Feb, Mar, Apr and May combined: 9 days

Now in the 9th month of winter, with an outside air temperature of 45 degrees in the afternoon of June 15, this endless winter has to stop sometime.

This week is no better. Seattle will have partly sunny to mostly cloudy conditions. Spokane will too, but with a good chance of rain each day, unlike Seattle. And this is the 2nd half of June.

381 Spokane groups lose their IRS tax exempt status

Go here and search for “Spokane”. (Two of the groups that appear in the list have Spokane in their name but are not based in Spokane.) The data base is provided by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Many have lost their tax exempt status due to failure to file required paperwork. Amongst some of the organizations on the list linked above are the

  • Washington Air National Guard
  • American Legion
  • United Steelworkers
  • Spokane Unlimited and Focus Spokane (economic boosters)
  • Spokane Valley Fire Department
  • Spokane County Sheriff’s Posse
  • Shriners International
  • Lions International
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Central Pre Mix (a non profit? It’s on the list)
  • Intercollegiate Center for Nursing

And many more. For many, this is likely a failure to file paperwork, possibly IRS errors due to similar names, errors perhaps in the database linked above, or some of the smaller organizations may no longer exist.

Sort of winding down the blog

For reasons I’ll explain in a later blog post, but mostly explained in some past blog posts – I’m gradually reducing my involvement in this blog, just as I intended to do last fall.

Besides, I hear the world is supposed to end on May 21st.

The best cities in the world for finance, innovation and tourism

via The World’s 26 Best Cities for Business, Life, and Innovation – Derek Thompson – Business – The Atlantic. Nice article with discussion.

Spokane Bloomsday Event Participants, ranked by year

1996 had the most participants.

2011 ranks 8th on the list, 2010 at 11th on the list and 2009 at 17th on the list.

1 1996 61298
2 1991 60104
3 1994 60037
4 1995 59100
5 1993 57680
6 1992 57651
7 1988 57298
8 2011 56640
9 1989 56280
10 1997 55270
11 2010 55090
12 1990 54869
13 1987 54261
14 1999 53898
15 1998 53389
16 2002 51282
17 2009 51259
18 2000 50401
19 2001 49532
20 1986 48406
21 2008 47528
22 2006 44756
23 2003 44641
24 2007 44180
25 2005 43842
26 2004 43514
27 1985 39662
28 1984 33312
29 1983 28173
30 1982 22210
31 1981 17000
32 1980 13576
33 1979 10082
34 1978 5460
35 1977 1400

2011 Spokane Bloomsday Race Total Runners and Walkers

Chart includes total registered and total finishers.

Complete data table after the break

Read more of this post

Participants in the Spokane Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

The series of running (and walking) events started in 1983 and today takes place in cities all over the world to raise money for breast cancer research. The event was first held in Spokane in 2006.  Based on prior years, the event expected up to 11,000 participants in 2011.

Update: KREM, a race sponsor, said 8,700 runners in 2011.  Oddly, the SR “hides the decline” with its peculiar report saying “about 9000” and then later in their story says “close to last years” total of 8,800.  But never gives us the actual number for 2011. That’s bad reporting.

Providence Sacred Heart CPR Training Video

Possibly not what you were expecting – this is dang good!!!!


The racist comments to this news story about today’s march against hate are sad and embarrassing for Spokane.  More here. Tragic. A bit better here, but sad tales too.


Falls under bridge

Image by lndhslf72 via Flickr

I have said a heck of a lot more about Spokane than I ever intended.

This project grew much bigger than I ever anticipated. Ick. All I wanted to do was find out what happened to a bunch of companies that had closed or left. I never set out nor intended to end up with a huge economic study and probably a bad one at that. Oh well.

I thought I was done last fall, then something happened and there was more to post. I thought I was done in January but the cycle repeated. Various people asked for “recommendations” – I tried to come up with something original, even though it could be off in space.

At this point, I will step back (yeah, right …) from this hobby that went on much too long.


I tried to source the majority of posts and charts to reputable original data sources. There could be errors in the original data or sometimes, I had to transcribe data and could have made mistakes or mistakes in interpretation. Some contacts that provided information could have been incorrect. As I’ve said all along, if there is better data, please provide the data and the source and I will fix it and make updates. The goal has been to make this an evidence-based, data driven blog.

I could be completely wrong and it would be good for others to examine this. May be the economy here is doing really well and the official data is just wrong. Perhaps those ghost buildings are not really empty 🙂

I hope both of my readers [1] found this information interesting and potentially useful.  Either that or my last comments have alienated both of them too…

I hope others may learn from this information and translate this into useful actions for the local area. There’s lots of people smarter than me (ok, probably most everyone …) and hope they will take a look a this too.

What we really need is a group effort. May be we can start with social media like LaunchPadINW. Get a discussion going. Keep this effort alive.

Thanks for reading. Having run this blog about 5 months longer than I ever intended, I think I am through for a while.

I was going to say who I am but quite a few people have contacted me to say I should remain anonymous.

Have a nice day 🙂

[1] Readership has grown to over 1 person 2 people 10 100 wow! 200 250 people per day for a tiny blog covering the world’s most boring subject.  I have no idea why – must be a lot of bored people… That’s about 4x to 8x more than I ever thought would visit this web site and this was reached without resorting to cute kitten videos or naked celebrity photos 🙂  About 70% of visitors land here each day as the result of searching for information, usually about Spokane and topics like 4G cellular, crime, unemployment, wages, schools and so on.