Low demand for highly educated, high skilled workers in Spokane

As shown in the post, below, pay for high skilled private sector workers in Spokane County (law, business, science and technology) is surprisingly low.

What It Means

  • The demand for high skilled workers in Spokane County is low.
  • There are about twice as many people with a 4-year degree as there are job openings needing a 4-year degree qualified worker*.
  • There are about three times as many people with graduate degrees as there are job openings needing a graduate degree qualified worker*.
  • The low demand for highly educated workers in Spokane is a likely reason wages for the highly skilled are so low.
  • About 2/3ds of the job openings require a high school diploma or less.

Chart comes from the Community Indicators of Spokane.

Besides the “Recommendations” posted in the right most column of this web site, what else might be done to create an ecosystem demanding higher skilled workers in Spokane?

Update: Local PR news article refers to Spokane as a “blue collar city”, which helps to explain the low wage issue. This article is part of a lobbying effort to continue receiving a 30% taxpayer funded subsidy to movie makers in Washington. For amusement, see how the local TV news hacked this story down to a few meaningless sentences. Funny.

* About 25% of adults here have a 4-year degree but the demand is about 12% to 15% of job openings. About 10% have a graduate degree but the demand is about 2% to 4% of job openings. Spikes in 4-year degree job openings in 2007-2009 have to do with the recession when lower skilled workers were typically the first to get fired and higher skilled workers were the first to be hired.

Spokane Poverty Rates

While poverty has been decreasing in Washington State, in recent years Spokane County’s the poverty rate has been increasing. There is a relationship between high school drop out rates and poverty – also see “1 in 3 Spokane High School Students Drop Out“.

In these charts, the yellow line corresponds to the City of Spokane, the red line to the County, and the dark blue line corresponds to Washington State.

Data Source: Community Indicators of Spokane

Zoom in on the most recent years to highlight the problem:

Poverty and school drop out rates are related. Some interesting comments from retiring Community Colleges of Spokane Chancellor Dr. Gary Livingston, here, in the Spokesman-Review newspaper (July 26, 2010):

We have to invest both in the students who are going through now – who didn’t come in ready to learn – and have to do it at a preschool level. So we’ll have to pay twice for a while, to help prepare students better. The (problem of not being ready for school) is a significant reflection of poverty in this area. And candidly, our community is getting poorer, not wealthier.

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