“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:

SpokaneCountyJobGrowthRateSlowing

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

2013JanBLSTotalEmployed

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. 

LAUCT536700000000005_742370_1398301192417

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)

Specifically:

  • 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)

CES0000000001_729328_1398279732234

Washington State

SMS53000000000000001_729393_1398279809663

Spokane County

SMS53440600000000001_729435_1398279884691

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):

app

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.

app

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.

Spokane-Median

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.

SpokaneMedianHouseholdIncome

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):

GDPPerCapita

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:

SpokaneVsKing

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.

SpokaneBirthsByMedicaid

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:

WhoBenefits

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:

SMU53440607000000001_730618_1398282555622

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 what are 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.

Crime

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:

image004

Accountability

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.

SpoSuicides2005-2009Youth

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.)

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 is 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:

employment

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 and the local liars. Data is the enemy of the 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 entirely 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 Employment and Unemployment Update

Long term trend from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

SMS53440600000000001_246930_1403720257481Shorter term data (which may include local adjustments) from the Washington Employment Security Department’s Numbers and Trends web site:

SpokaneJobs

The chart now shows steady job growth. Unemployment has dropped, as this blog predicted long ago, at about a one percentile point per year rate.

SpokaneUnEmpProjection

If everything remains the same, total jobs may reach the prior peak 2008 level by 2016. Old projections thought that by about 2016, there would be 235,000 jobs. This is roughly where jobs need to catch up to be comparable to the jobs/population ratio in 2008, due to continued population growth. However, labor force participation has been falling, which means more people are not working (either by choice or because they gave up looking for work).

EmpProjection

The simplest “take away” is that the Spokane MSA will be back to 2008 jobs level by about 2016. The  United States as a whole already reached the 2008 level earlier this year; Spokane is taking twice as along as the rest of the country.

A related takeaway, however, is that job growth remains tepid, growing about half as fast as during the 2002-2008 period or the 1990 to 2000 period. Just look at the red line versus the blue line to see the job growth rate, visually. Slow growth in employment is likely to retain Spokane’s low wage problem. (Another post on that shortly).

Did Spokane really see an increase in tourism related jobs?

We previously covered how a decline in passengers and airplanes at both main airports is widely described by area “leaders” as “continued growth in aviation.

Only in Spokane’s bizarro world is a decline considered growth.

Now we seem to have another example of decline = growth.

Here is a chart of employment change in Spokane County from March 2013 to March 2014. This data comes from the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) which gets its data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tourism is most closely connected to the hospitality (hotels) and restaurant sectors, and a tiny, tiny bit to the retail trade sector.

Note that employment in retail trade is down by -200 jobs year over year, employment in the hospitality (hotels) sector is down by -900 and employment in drinking and eating establishments (restaurants) is down by -200 year over year. Mar13-Mar14

In fact, retail sales tax collections are down 2 percent for the early part of 2014.

Visit  Spokane issues a press release:

Visit Spokane announced that Spokane County added 180 jobs in the tourism industry last year, in local retail stores, restaurants, hotels and more. Visit Spokane staff said Washington’s growth in the tourism industry is still slower than the rest of the nation.

Visitors to Spokane have increased so much that Visit Spokane closed its downtown visitor information center in October of 2013 and replaced it with a kiosk in the Riverfront Square mall.

Watch the pea under the thimble. They seem to have lumped together “retail stores, restaurants, hotels AND MORE” to come up with an increase.  Yet the proxies for visitors are most closely correlated with the hotel industry and food services, both of which are down year over year.

Perhaps they found a different set of dates over which to do the year over year comparison, rather than the most recent 12 month period for which data is available.

Visit Spokane has a history of making things up and contributes to the image that Spokane remains the scam and fraud capital of America. This is not a good thing.

As you can see below:

  • Hotel industry employment is down,
  • Bloomsday participants are in decline,
  • Airport passengers are in a long term decline,
  • Convention center attendance is in long term decline.

By objective measures, Spokane tourism is not doing so great.

Proxy Measures of Visitors to  Spokane Based on Actual Data

Hospitality (hotels) industry employment in the City of Spokane since 1993 (data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics). Hospitality employment is on par with about a dozen  years ago – in other words, no growth in a dozen years.

SMU53440607000000001_730618_1398282555622

Bloomsday

Bloomsday participants through 2014. 2014TotalBloomsday (1)

Airport

Passenger usage at the Spokane International Airport since 1990. As you can see, passenger counts are less than they were in about 1994. There has been a slight year over year increase in recent months but this is not included in this chart. Data from the FAA. 2013NovSIA   The Spokane Public Facilities District (aka Convention Center and Arena) is a hoot. Attendance at all facilities is downwards for 15 years. (The first few years of the chart is artificially low due to data not available for all facilities in the first years.)

chart_4

Spokane Chiefs (Hockey) game attendance

Since 2007-2008, the average per game attendance trend is slightly down. (Source)

Hoopfest

We think Hoopfest has shown an increase in attendance and could be another proxy indicator; however, data on long term registrations was not readily available and the crowd size estimates are not reliable.

Conclusion

Just not seeing a big growth in tourism related businesses in the area.

December 2013 Employment Update for Spokane County

Data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics

BLS Seasonally adjusted non-farm employment. Overall seasonally adjusted non-farm employment is at about year 2005 levels. The down trend in the past couple of months is of some concern – see next chart and commentary, below.

BSL-SeasonallyAdjusted

BLS Not Seasonally Adjusted non-farm employment. 2013 finishes the year with the 2nd employment peak falling slightly below the first peak (the last column shows 4 “peaks” as the column includes 2012 and 2013). As noted previously – the 2nd peak is usually greater than the first peak when job growth is continuing. When the 2nd peak is lower than the first peak, the local job market is shrinking. You can see this in the chart below for 2001, and 2008-2009. The pattern is similar to the 2001 downturn.  Is this signaling a possible regional recession? Far too early to tell but we should keep a close watch on this.

BLSNotSeasonallyAdjusted

Here’s a chart that highlights the double peak and downturns in 2001 and possible downturn signaled in 2013 – the downturn of 2008-2009 does not need a highlight!

BLSNotSeasonallyAdjusted

 

Update March 2014. The BLS has updated its data and charts through January 2014. They revised their previous data and now show a slight increase in the rightmost peak, and that is good news.  Looking at recent peaks, job growth remains quite weak.

We are now in the annual cyclical downturn, with unemployment at 8.7%. Which is super high by historical standards.

BLS Chart non-farm, not-seasonally adjusted, through January 2014:

SMU53440600000000001_175822_1395892598541

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:

2012NovEmployment

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).

2012NovBLS

Hospital, Manufacturing, Education, Convention Center Attendance 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.

Source


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.

Resources

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.