In a study of more than 360 metropolitan areas by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, Olympia was rated 6th-highest in the nation for salary growth.
Pay there rose an average of 22 percent from 2004-2008, according to the magazine. Median household income in Olympia is now more than $55,000 a year.
From the magazine:
"Mischaracterized sometimes as a sleepy government town, Washington's state capital enjoys a thriving visual and performing-arts scene. But its state government continues to be the keystone of the city's economy; it employs about half of the city's workforce. Education is another big driver of the city's growth and character."
And Spokane? Pretty far down the list, with income growth of 6.5 percent and median household income of $44,694.
The good news for the inland empire is that it's markedly cheaper to live in Spokane. Kiplinger's cost-of-living index ranks Spokane at 91 percent of the average cost of living nationwide, putting it on par with places like Boise, Colorado Springs and Fargo, N.D. Olympia's at 105 percent.