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”.

NCAA reduces seating requirements; Spokane PFD’s Arena expansion no longer required

The intent of this web site has been to collect local economic data and historical trends. Some times we stumble on non-economic data we would rather not see and wish we had nothing to do with it. I wish the following finding is not true as this looks really bad. I am not a reporter – and hopefully the linked sources are all wrong.  But it would be great if a real reporter would look into this.

  • Last year, the PFD said the Arena needed to be expanded to meet a new NCAA requirement of 12,000 “sellable” seats. The Arena already had 12,000 seats but many hundreds of seats are used by media, bands, cheer teams, official and others such that the Arena had less than 12,000 “sellable” seats.
  • But in June 2012, the NCAA lowered the minimum seat requirements to 10,000.
  • When the Spokane Arena previously held the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball rounds one and two, they failed to fill all available seats (this is before the expansion).
  • The Arena expansion is no longer needed and the PFD is covering this up.

Lots more after the break …

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Percent of Spokane High School Seniors Taking the SAT Exam

SAT exam scores are required for application to most 4-year college programs.

The percent of Spokane area high school seniors taking the SAT exam – and hence likely to be college bound – has continued its multi-year collapse.  57% of all Washington high school seniors took the SAT last year but in Spokane, the total is 36%.

This may solve the mystery as to the excitement over more low wage warehouse worker and call center jobs opening in Spokane:   that’s what the workforce here is qualified to do. But seriously, shouldn’t we be frightened of this trend? What steps could be undertaken to address this?

The data comes from the Community Indicators of Spokane web site and is updated from that previously shown on this blog.

Related: 80% to 92% of local community college students need to take remedial math. That compares to 60% nationally.

Updated January 2014:

Follow the line from left to right – the percent of Seniors taking the SAT has gone up nicely, albeit, still lagging the state as a whole (green line).


Southwest to abandon Seattle-Spokane route and SIA is not honest about it


Image by shankool007 via Flickr

UpdateSince this was written, Alaska/Horizon announced it will add 2 additional turbo prop flights to the Spokane-Seattle route.  Alaska did not publicly announce their price hike, but in their reservation system, the price went up..

Southwest to abandon Seattle-Spokane route – – July 27, 2011.

  1. Claim: Airport spokesperson says there are 20 daily flights on Alaska/Horizon to Seattle.
    Reality: There will be 3 jet flights and 13 turbo prop (propeller planes – just like a rural town) direct to Seattle. That’s 16, not 20. Four additional flights go to Portland where you can change planes, then go to Seattle. Total travel time including TSA groping and so on is longer than just driving. This is easy to check at
  2. Claim: The airport spokesperson says Alaska is not raising fares.
    Reality:  On the Alaska web site, their lowest cost fare option vanishes in January the day before Southwest flights end. This is easy to check.
  3. Claim: The article says an expansion of flights “to Denver in recent years” adds more options.
    Reality: Except there appears to have been a 1/3d drop in flights to Denver this past year. Again, easy to check.
  4. Claim: The airport spokesperson suggests Spokane travelers can fly to “Denver and Phoenix” and then transfer to Seattle.
    Reality: That does not pass the giggle test – that takes far, far longer than just driving to Seattle! We are not idiots.

PR spin or outright lies? You decide.

Many are looking at the air travel situation and realizing we may need to move out of Spokane. It takes a day to get places that I used to get to in 2 to 2 1/2 hour flights, and with lack of options, I may have to stay over an extra night in a hotel.

Filed under “Crime” because the airport is being dishonest. Separately, the SR reporter /editor should have verified or clarified those statements for the reader.

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.

Alaska Air eliminates cheapest fares from Spokane to Seattle starting in January

Vancouver International Airport (YVR/CYVR), Ri...

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Probably in response to Southwest Air eliminating Spokane <–> Seattle service as of January 8th, Alaska’s lowest fare increases from $68 to $83 (before fees and taxes) for a one-way flight. Update: Confirming that as of January 9th, Alaska will have a monopoly as the only provider of scheduled airline service between Spokane and Seattle. More on this in the near future.

Before Southwest eliminates Spokane-Seattle service on January 8th, 2012:

After Southwest ends service, Alaska’s lowest fare rises to $83.

The above are screen captures from checking a flight in early January using the Alaska reservation system. Jan 2nd is omitted in the screen capture because, being the day after New Years, there are no lowest priced fares available.

Update:  As of mid-August, Alaska Air has lowered the prices back down to $69 for January 2012 flights to Seattle! That is hopefully great news!

Tough times in Tacoma’s down town core

Business & Technology | Tacoma works to recover from economic blows | Seattle Times Newspaper.


About one-quarter of Tacoma’s residents older than 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree. In Seattle, more than half do. In Portland and Salt Lake City, about 40 percent.


Meanwhile, city leaders are supporting another initiative: a grow-our-own strategy under a campaign, called “Shift Happens,” that focuses on nurturing local small businesses rather than recruiting big ones.

“Tacoma is littered with the husks of large companies that once composed the foundation of our economy,” according to the campaign, which cites the departures since the 1970s of corporate headquarters such as Weyerhaeuser and Russell as well as large employers such as Expedia and Nalley’s.


Bringing conventions and events to the city can help the local economy, he said, but Tacoma has stiff competition.

“It’s hard to compete with Vegas,” Wali said. “Tacoma’s as much fun as Sacramento, as much fun as Boise.”

To increase the desirability of shopping down town – the city just started to charge for parking that was previously free. Brilliant.

Washington State’s debt load higher than national median

Downtown Seattle, Washington and the Bainbridg...

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In Washington, which is borrowing about $1 billion a year for transportation projects including a new car tunnel beneath Seattle, debt is $2,226 per capita, eighth in the country and more than double the $936 national median, said Jim McIntire, the state treasurer.

via Seattle, Portland, Hottest Cities of 1990s, Seeing Growth Slow in Maturity – Bloomberg.

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State of the City Address costs $55 to attend

State of the City Address. The Mayor gave her State of the City Address on February 11th.

Cost of admission (no kidding!) was $55 per person!

One would think that a Mayor’s “State of the City” speech would be open to the public without cost.  In Seattle, the Mayor gave his “State of the City” speech in Council Chambers at City Hall.

Seattle area home prices

Home prices in the Seattle area have fallen to 2003 levels.  Forecasts call for up to a 10% additional drop in 2011.

Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: Housing Crash Bites Deeper; Economic Reality Trumps “It’s Different Here”; Unprecedented Double-Dip.

Imagination: Electron Boy may save the whole world

Electron Boy receives The Golden Scarf! #Sound...

Image by Nonsequiturlass via Flickr

“What really got me about the whole story was what it proved … that our imaginations are pure and boundless and can take us anywhere that we let them, no matter how much these bodies might fail us.”

via Living | Seattle’s Electron Boy story inspires new comic book | Seattle Times Newspaper.

(In photo, Electron Boy receives award from the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field.)

Erik Martin is a young boy living with multiple medical conditions including cancer. In Seattle earlier this year, the Make-A-Wish Foundation helped Erik achieve his dream as super hero Electron Boy in which he rescued the Seattle Sounders team imprisoned by Dr. Dark at Qwest Field, rescued a Puget Power worker in front of hundreds of cheering onlookers, and captured Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy at the Space Needle.

Now there are Electron Boy comic books and a rock music theme song.

  • Imagination
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • And a lot of hard work made this possible

Spokane Airport could see more flight changes in 2011

A Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8-Q402 landing a...

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The relationship between Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air is changing and it may impact markets like Spokane, where Horizon currently flies many “once per hour” flights to Seattle. One likely outcome is fewer Horizon flights, but perhaps replaced with a smaller number of larger jets.

Alaska will choose Horizon’s service locations starting January 1st, 2011.

Big Changes Coming to Horizon Air – But You Probably Won’t Notice | Airline Reporter | An airline blog on the airline industry.

More information is also available in AviationWeek.

How Spokane Promotes Itself

Location of Chelan County where the Lake Chela...

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Here is how Spokane promotes itself – this quote is from the Washington State website “”:

Spokane, the second-largest city in Washington state, serves as the business, transportation, medical, industrial, and cultural hub of the Inland Northwest.

Spokane’s low business costs and productive workforce make this area the ideal place to relocate a business.

The two competitive advantages are “low business costs” which is a direct proxy for “low wages/poverty”, and “productive workforce”, which means productive per unit  – or low wages – for the purpose of business relocation to Spokane. As I have written about on these pages, my hypothesis is that Spokane has long benefited from national recessions because firms then moved to reduce costs by moving to lower cost cities, like Spokane. In a globalized economy, Spokane is no longer the lowest cost provider. This strategy of promoting our region’s chronic low wages will not be successful to achieve goals of raising wages and opportunities. Instead, we will get more casino, restaurant, hotel and call center jobs, plus the usual government/education/health care jobs.

The source for these quotes is the Spokane page on

Compare Spokane’s two competitive advantages to those of other regions in the State.

Benton County offers electric rates that are among the lowest in the nation and an excellent transportation network that includes highways, two national railroads and commercial air and barge services.  Benton County is a top choice for companies seeking access to major markets and affordable power.

Ranked as one of the top ten high technology communities in the nation, Benton County features an emphasis on innovation and technology. The Tri Cities boasts an employment rate of 19% in technology and topped the list as the most secure mid-sized city in America.

Here is how King County is promoted:

King County is the largest business center in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest with cutting-edge companies and an unmatched spirit of innovation. The county is home to some of the world’s most successful businesses including, Boeing Commercial Airplanes,Costco, Starbucks, Safeco, and many more. The highly educated workforce, exceptional quality of life, entrepreneurial culture, and strategic location – midway between Asia and Europe – attract companies to this area.

King County is a leading global center for several emerging industries, including aerospace, biotechnology, clean technology, information technology, and international trade and logistics. In 2005, Seattle was ranked the most well educated city in the country. : King County.

And Chelan County:

Located in the heart of Washington state, Chelan County offers business and industry a state-of-the-art fiber optic highway, videoconferencing, meeting and training facilities.

Chelan County also boasts some of the lowest power rates in the country, generated by the Columbia river hydroelectric dams, and healthy and vibrant agriculture and tourism industries.

The Spokane region’s economic promotional strategy seems as incoherent as the incoherent clustering strategy (and also).