“Encouraging signs emerging from Great Recession”

From airplane parts to medical devices, cookware, pharmaceuticals and mining equipment, factories across the region are collecting contracts that square with the national trend of burgeoning productivity.

Even though manufacturers rely more and more upon automation and greater productivity from every worker, hiring is on the rise. In Spokane, for example, there were 15,325 people employed by manufacturing firms in December, the most since late 2009.

via “Encouraging Signs Emerging from Great Recession”, Spokesman-Review.

It’s a rainy morning and unfortunately I have not yet forgotten how to make a chart. So let’s chart some actual data!

Historical Manufacturing Employment in Spokane County

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Spokane: When news breaks, not much happens

An incident occurred Saturday night that shows the impact of local news room cut backs.

The Incident

Around 9 pm on Saturday, there was a murder, followed by a suicide during the night. Police, sheriff’s deputies, State patrol, SWAT team equivalent, negotiators, K-9 teams, police reserves, an armored vehicle all arrived and the sheriff’s helicopter circled over head for hours. Nearby apartments were evacuated and streets were closed off much of the night. Dozens of officers were involved. This is a big deal in Spokane.

Local News Coverage

Let’s look at how this was covered by the news media in Spokane …

Saturday

  • 9 pm: Shooting occurs, police respond.
  • 11 pm: KXLY – zero coverage.
    11 pm: KHQ and KREM have short phone calls with their photographer on scene.
    11 pm: The Spokesman-Review tweets that a shooting occurred.
  • 12 Midnight: KHQ and KREM add six sentence stories to their web sites.
  • (Update: As added in a comment to this post, KHQ and KREM did “okay” – not great, but okay. See the comments for more information.)
Sunday

Was this an important story in Spokane? As of Monday, this was the #1 most viewed story at the local TV station web sites.

Does Spokane’s news media lack resources to cover urgent, breaking news outside of regular business hours?  Looks that way.  They may want to take an introspective look at how they could do better.

What impact will the lack of news resources have on a community in terms of losing coverage of urgent news events, local government initiatives, education, business activities, economic development, and projects pushed by local developers?

Update: One week later, here’s an example of a smaller deal that was reported and online quickly, rather than 18 hours later. Hopefully the event above led to some new ideas for covering timely news.

Afterword

Falls under bridge

Image by lndhslf72 via Flickr

I have said a heck of a lot more about Spokane than I ever intended.

This project grew much bigger than I ever anticipated. Ick. All I wanted to do was find out what happened to a bunch of companies that had closed or left. I never set out nor intended to end up with a huge economic study and probably a bad one at that. Oh well.

I thought I was done last fall, then something happened and there was more to post. I thought I was done in January but the cycle repeated. Various people asked for “recommendations” – I tried to come up with something original, even though it could be off in space.

At this point, I will step back (yeah, right …) from this hobby that went on much too long.

Source

I tried to source the majority of posts and charts to reputable original data sources. There could be errors in the original data or sometimes, I had to transcribe data and could have made mistakes or mistakes in interpretation. Some contacts that provided information could have been incorrect. As I’ve said all along, if there is better data, please provide the data and the source and I will fix it and make updates. The goal has been to make this an evidence-based, data driven blog.

I could be completely wrong and it would be good for others to examine this. May be the economy here is doing really well and the official data is just wrong. Perhaps those ghost buildings are not really empty 🙂

I hope both of my readers [1] found this information interesting and potentially useful.  Either that or my last comments have alienated both of them too…

I hope others may learn from this information and translate this into useful actions for the local area. There’s lots of people smarter than me (ok, probably most everyone …) and hope they will take a look a this too.

What we really need is a group effort. May be we can start with social media like LaunchPadINW. Get a discussion going. Keep this effort alive.

Thanks for reading. Having run this blog about 5 months longer than I ever intended, I think I am through for a while.

I was going to say who I am but quite a few people have contacted me to say I should remain anonymous.

Have a nice day 🙂

[1] Readership has grown to over 1 person 2 people 10 100 wow! 200 250 people per day for a tiny blog covering the world’s most boring subject.  I have no idea why – must be a lot of bored people… That’s about 4x to 8x more than I ever thought would visit this web site and this was reached without resorting to cute kitten videos or naked celebrity photos 🙂  About 70% of visitors land here each day as the result of searching for information, usually about Spokane and topics like 4G cellular, crime, unemployment, wages, schools and so on.

Local housing market is years away from recovery

Avista economist Randy Barcus said migration into the Inland Northwest, which generated between one-half and three-quarters of population growth before the recession, has become a trickle because few can sell their homes elsewhere and move.

Eventually, he said, that will improve the job prospects for local residents.

via Real estate forecast dim – Poten & Partners. (That article actually comes from the Spokesman-Review and the McClatchy-Tribune Information Service).

The last sentence is amusing and is one way to positive spin the situation!

Plus, his data is at odds with that provided by Eastern Washington University – they show in migration still doing quite well.

Nothing on this web site is original

As you can see from comments to the Spokesman-Review articles, like this one, many people in Spokane understand the situation of its long struggling economy. That comment is pretty much on the mark and makes a very good point – Boise, which has long been the “comparable” city by which both cities compare their performance, has continued to thrive while Spokane has stalled. That is also seen in Spokane Airport handling more passengers in 1996 than in 2009, while Boise passenger traffic has grown nicely since then.

You can also see on that comment thread what happens to people who dare question the status quo – geesh! Dissenting perspectives, especially on public policy issues like economic development, are not tolerated in Spokane, as EWU’s study on Spokane’s culture learned.

——–

I also saw mention of some of the issues that seem to limit forward progress in Spokane:

  • The culture issue is mentioned
  • Does “old money” (there is plenty here) play a role in preserving their status quo?
  • Surprisingly sharp attacks against anyone who mentions any problems in Spokane. That suggests a closed mindedness at work that limits progress. Mere mentioning a problem here results in a call to “Get the hell out” of Spokane. Wow.