Spokane Crime, Employment, Airport Usage, Office Vacancy Rates and some “just WTF?”

Spokane Crime

Spokane is one great big crime hot spot: Spokane GIS – Crime Map.

Not sure why they bother to highlight some areas on the map – looks like most of the map is a hot spot. Ouch!

Non-Farm Jobs in Spokane Continues to Slide in 2012

Worst July since pre-historic times. And the January 2012 number was revised way downward.

Mentally draw a trend line through the downturn side of the chart – yeah, the situation is getting worse year over year. We’ve seen the first of two annual employment peaks and the first 2012 peak is lower than it was in 2010 and 2011. This is not good. In fact, this really, really bad.

Update: What is the State doing with the data?

Read more of this post


Notable local Spokane business closings this week

And its only Monday.

Changes in employment, by category, 2001 to 2009 in Spokane County

This chart is very wide – recommend you click on the chart to see the full image.

Data comes from washington.reaproject.org

Notable 0bservations – large growth in health care jobs number. Large percentage drops in Manufacturing, Information, Management, and Military categories.  Large percentage increases in Finance & Insurance, Real Estate/Rentals/Leasing, Professional and Technical Services.

The South University District

The South University District holds much vacant land and dilapidated buildings in need of repair. Map shows vacant land.


Map shows the poor quality of many existing buildings:

A “public/private” partnership is to be created to fix this run down area, turning it in to a mixed use, high density residential and high paying medical/business office center with high earning shoppers who will spend their money in the downtown core.

There are many vacant and run-down buildings and empty parcels in Spokane Valley and North Spokane.  The strategy of using tax money and zoning to “urban renew” the central core has been very effective at providing great benefits to a few while the rest of the area languishes. (CBD=central business district)

Did the Valley Mall and other areas require large public/private partnerships to come into fruition or did they do so on their own?

Legislators propose to eliminate counties that cannot support themselves

Spokane in Spokane County

Image via Wikipedia

This will not pass – but if it did, it would abolish Spokane County:

If a county cannot economically support itself, then it should be dissolved and absorbed by surrounding counties. They put this proposal in House Joint Resolution 4214, which would amend the state constitution.

via Opinion | One county does not rule all in Washington state | Seattle Times Newspaper.

A Spokane area legislator is the author of the opinion column, above, and points out the ways Seattle benefits from rural economies. He recognizes that this bill would abolish most of the northeastern rural counties in Washington, likely merging all of them into a large county including Spokane.


In the last item, EWU researchers wrote:

The balance between transfer payments received and tax payments made for years 1991 and 1998 reveals that Spokane and Kootenai Counties both received more in Federal individual transfer payments than paid in personal income tax and social security contributions.

Consequently, the proposed legislation would likely abolish Spokane County and combine several counties together. No kidding.

Is Spokane recovering from the economic downturn?

Chart of per-capita real GDP during the Great ...

Image via Wikipedia

Is Spokane recovering from this economic downturn?

We will not know until after the recovery is well underway. Economic data is always looking backwards and takes months to a year or more to tell us where we were.

In the past, Spokane tended to benefit from recessions (and also) as national corporations saw Spokane as a low cost place to set up their business.

I noted a pattern in the relative wages of Spokane to the state and to the nation, in terms of how Spokane wages responded to a recession. That pattern ended a decade ago as corporations now move offshore rather than to low cost U.S. cities.

Last week, I republished this chart and I realized that it too shows a pattern relative to recessions:

Transfer payments are payments received without a corresponding contemporary product or service being delivered. Examples include retirement benefits, unemployment benefits, disability benefits and others. Almost all transfer payments are made by government agencies.

Look carefully at the chart around the years of past recessions in about 1973-1975, 1981-82, 1991, 2001 and then 2008 (the data is not yet available beyond that point).

Transfer payments climbed quickly as recessions took hold (probably due to large increases in unemployment benefits) but then dropped sharply in the years after the recession.

But look at what happened between 2000 and 2001? A sharp increase in transfer payments. But NO DROP in the years following. Spokane did not recover from the last recession.

The transfer payment chart ends at the start of the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression.

Here’s an actual employment chart that presents a different view of the situation as a count of total people employed (does not include the self employed, sole proprietors or active duty military):

The Spokane region has seen an unprecedented drop in employed people since the peak in 2007.

Will we now see a drop in the transfer payments into Spokane County or another permanent increase, as we did after the 2000-2001 downturn?

My hunch is that unemployment benefits will drop but that transfer payments will remain elevated and not drop like they did prior to 2000.  Many will take early retirement and some will magically go on disability.  A related concern is that the area lost high paying/high benefit jobs in the past ten years but will now see new employment mostly in low paying jobs: in the past week, the news ran stories about 1,200 people applying for some 200 seasonal, part-time jobs at Riverfront Park and that a hardware store chain would hire up to 300, part time, seasonal sales associates. These low paying, part time jobs were presented as great news for Spokane. But this trend of outsourcing high paying jobs and replacing them with low paid, low skilled jobs is not confined to Spokane.

Over the past decade many large, high paying employers closed or sharply cut back their Spokane operations. No similar sized firms with similar pay scales have opened up in Spokane.