Spokane County Employment and Unemployment, in charts

From the Washington State Employment Security Department

TotalNonFarm

The ESD chart suggests employment has almost recovered to pre-Depression 2.0 levels (but see chart from U.S. BLS, below, with a strangely different presentation).

UnEmp

From the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics – this chart (only through March of 2015) indicates a weak jobs recovery versus the one provided by ESD, above:

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We have no information on why these charts differ. The chart below shows the “labor force”, which includes those who are working and those who are unemployed and also looking for work:

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Spokane Airports Update for June 2011

The data in chart form. Data for the first 6 months is used to estimate the remainder of the year 2011.

While the first six months enplanements are down -2.36%, the month of June is down -5.5% total which could be an early indicator that the economy is softening again but it is too early to tell for sure.

(Update: Port of Seattle shipments have declined -10.3% starting in May and continuing in June. BNSF and UP are carrying roughly equal freight loads to one year ago as of a few weeks ago, and one year ago was considerably less than prior to 2008. Bulk shipments of coal and grain by rail are also down about -10% YoY. Combined with the local airport numbers, this does look like the possible start of a new downturn.)

The official press release concerning SIA:

Note the reference to the use of airport data as an indicator of the local economic situation in Spokane. Even the tiniest increase shows “the local economy continues to improve”. Odd, though, how all the decreases in airport usage and service apparently indicate no changes in the local economy!

Charter aircraft services out of SIA are down -46.3% since last year.  Charters have been below last year for 4 of the preceding 6 months, and sharply lower in June, with a decrease of -77%. But cargo is indeed up slightly, which is good.

It seems likely that 2011 passenger enplanements will be just below 2010, and 2012 is likely to be at or slightly below 2011 levels due to the loss of the Southwest flights to Seattle. But things could change for the better in 2012. While Alaska Air will add 2 flights to replace those lost by Southwest, Alaska will be flying smaller aircraft with just over 1/2 the seats that Southwest provided.

The official press release concerning Felts:

While June cargo at Felts Field is up for June, for the year, cargo through Felts Field is down -45%.

After a couple of months of good weather, we may have a better understanding as to whether the first half Felts Field traffic drop was due to weather or something else.

REMINDER: The airport is a proxy for the local economy. The fall off in flights, non-stop destinations and passengers is primarily a reflection of the local and national economy . The data suggest that Spokane’s economy is doing worse than elsewhere. The data presented do not mean that airport management is (presently) doing a bad job, although their PR spin is amusing.

Trend in Spokane “International” Airport Passenger Levels Versus National Air Passenger Levels

This picture was taken from the Spokane Intern...

Image via Wikipedia

Trend in passenger growth (or loss) at Spokane “International” Airport versus Total National Air Passengers.

In this chart, the national total has been re-scaled to start at the same point as the Spokane total in order to compare the local growth rate (or loss) with the national growth rate in air travel. The data for Spokane come from SpokaneAirports.net and the national data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Ignore the Y-Axis numbers as they are meaningless in the trend comparison due to re-scaling.

The start date of 1996 is because that is the oldest data available at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The end date is 2010, the most recent full year of data.

Interpretation:

  • Compare the starting point of the blue line to the ending point of the blue line. As you can see, national air traffic has increased over this time.
  • Compare the starting point of the red line to the end point of the red line.
  • Passengers at Spokane “International” Airport have gone down over this period while overall national air passenger levels have gone up.
  • Only in the period of about 2005 to 2010, does Spokane perform better. However, so far in 2011, Spokane has gone down while national air passenger counts have gone up by about 2%. 2011 is not shown in the chart.

This chart was added to the previous post to keep the charts on SIA performance (or lack thereof) in a single place.

REMINDER: The airport is a proxy for the local economy. The fall off in flights, non-stop destinations and passengers is primarily a reflection of the local and national economy . The data suggest that Spokane’s economy is doing worse than elsewhere. The data presented do not mean that airport management is (presently) doing a bad job, although their PR spin is amusing.

Trend of transfer payments into Spokane County

Please read this first: “Transfer Payments in to Spokane MSA as of 2008“.

For additional information, also read the comments to that post.

Here is a chart showing the longer term trend in transfer payments and the role they now play in Spokane’s economy. As can be seen, transfer payments (payments received for other than current products or services rendered) now represent about 20% of the Spokane area’s income.

Per the linked post, this is primarily government payments for various benefits programs and does not include salaries for government workers.

Data source: Washington Economic Analysis Project.

Transfer income payments show some correlation with past recessions. Note the drop off after the 1973-1975, 1980-1981, and 1990-1991 recessions, and then the rise in about the year 2000 and again in 2007 for those recessions. Recessions lead to layoffs and unemployment compensation, which is a temporary transfer payment, but they also lead to older workers being forced into retirement, which may semi-permanently increase retirement benefits for the long term.

We did not see the expected drop off in transfer payments after the 2000-2001 recession, which supports my hypothesis that the Spokane area economy is no longer recovering from recessions like it used to.