Nation/World

Pace Of Job Growth In Spokane Slows Along With Influx Of Newcomers

The Spokane job picture should continue to improve the rest of the year, according to the State Employment Security Department.

“Employment growth will be mostly in the same sectors that have added jobs over the last several years: services, trade and local government,” says regional labor economist Fred Walsh in Spokane. “The ebb and flow of in-migration will continue to be the determining factor in Spokane’s economic and employment future.”

Nonagricultural and salary employment last year grew 1.2 percent - less than half the growth rate of the past five years, Walsh reports.

The slowdown in job growth “coincides with the ebbing of the in-migration tide,” the economist said.

Last year, manufacturing employment expansion outpaced job growth overall in the Spokane metropolitan area, with a gain of nearly 2 percent.

But construction employment continued as the star performer, registering job growth of 4.1 percent. Indeed, construction has posted a torrid 5.7 percent annual average job-growth rate so far in this decade.

By contrast, employment in retail trade edged up just half of 1 percent last year. That compares with a 3.3-percent expansion rate in the first half of the ‘90s.

More disappointing still, employment in general merchandise and apparel stores actually fell 3.4 percent last year. And despite all the new giant chains and “big box” stores that have come to Spokane in this decade, during the past five years the combined total job growth of department stores and clothing stores has been just half of 1 percent.

Seafirst donates to Alvin Wolff chair

This must be the Alvin J. Wolff family’s month. Last week State Real Estate Commissioner Alvin J. Wolff Jr. of Spokane was named Eastern Washington University’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

This week, Seafirst Bank announced a pledge of $75,000 to help Washington State University endow a $500,000 chair in the name of his father, Alvin J. Wolff Sr. of Spokane.

The Alvin J. Wolff Distinguished Professorship in Real Estate will go to an individual with industry experience and academic credentials. The recipient will serve as director of research for the university’s Washington Center for Real Estate Research and as a teacher in the College of Business & Economics, focusing primarily on commercial real estate and research.

Alvin J. Wolff Sr. is a state and national leader in the real estate industry, and was a long-time officer of the National Association of Realtors.

Seafirst Chairman John Rindlaub said Seafirst’s gift underscores the importance of business and academic partnerships. “Businesses need access to timely research. Universities need quality professors. Seafirst’s grant will be used to accomplish both.”

Labor convention headliners named

Linda Chavez Thompson, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, and Gerald McEntee, international president of the AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees), are scheduled headliners for labor talks the first week of June in Spokane.

Hundreds of delegates from throughout the region are expected to attend the biannual convention of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees June 6 through 8.

Forest industry refutes economist’s claim

A forest industry leader labels as a “patent falsehood” a recent claim by a foremost Montana economist that lumber mills have all vanished from the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula.

As chairman of the Department of Economics at the University of Montana, Thomas Power ought to know better than to make such a statement, charges Cary Hegreberg, executive director of the Montana Wood Products Association.

Power cited the end of the mills recently in this column in support of his contention that resource-extraction industries no longer underpin this region’s local economies. Instead, argues the author of a controversial new book entitled “Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies,” today’s economic pillars are the natural environment, quality of life, and recreational assets.

But Hegreberg, whose association represents Montana lumber mills, paper mills and log home manufacturers, says the professor is an “environmental activist with a Ph.D. in economics” who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“There is a big lumber mill in Darby in the Bitterroot Valley, and at least two dozen log home manufacturers,” says the industry spokesman. “The Darby Lumber Co., which is undergoing an employee buyout, employs 150 persons.

“And log homes manufacturers, while they aren’t lumber mills in the traditional sense, do use a lot of timber and employ a lot of people.

“We have been logging for 100 years,” observes Hegreberg, “and people still flock here, because they are attracted by the recreation and the environment - not because we have ruined it all.

“We have a running battle with Dr. Power, who thinks we don’t need any resource activity to sustain the state’s economy.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

This sidebar appeared with the story: SLOWDOWN Here is the percentage increase in jobs for each of the past 11 years: 1986 1.5% 1987 3% 1988 1.7% 1989 3% 1990 3.6% 1991 3.5% 1992 2.1% 1993 3.1% 1994 4.2% 1995 2.1% 1996 1.2%

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

This sidebar appeared with the story: SLOWDOWN Here is the percentage increase in jobs for each of the past 11 years: 1986 1.5% 1987 3% 1988 1.7% 1989 3% 1990 3.6% 1991 3.5% 1992 2.1% 1993 3.1% 1994 4.2% 1995 2.1% 1996 1.2%

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review



Click here to comment on this story »




Blogs




Step right up

The Slice asked about things that had been lost and were still missed, even though they had negligible monetary value. Gabi Tilley knew exactly what that question was all about. ...






Sections


Profile

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile