June 1, 2009 in City

Small sectors, big opportunity

Market simmers beyond mainstays
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Photos by JESSE TINSLEY jesset@spokesman.com photo

Nick Tibbetts edits video at ILF Media in Spokane on May 20. Jobs like Tibbetts’ are projected to grow in Spokane. jesset@spokesman.com
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Special section

Read other stories in this special report and explore related interactive graphs.

Pockets of growth

Here are some of the small but steady pockets of job growth forecast for Spokane County over the next several years, according to the Washington state Employment Security Department. To view the full list, go online to www.workforceexplorer.com, and click on “Demand/Decline Occupations.”

Architects (excluding landscape architecture)

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 3.6 percent

Average annual openings: 18

Mean statewide wage: $71,993

Fitness trainers/ aerobics instructors

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 2.1 percent

Average annual openings: 10

Mean statewide wage: $39,207

Home health aides

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 2.4 percent

Average annual openings: 48

Mean statewide wage: $21,815

Massage therapists

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 2.1 percent

Average annual openings: 9

Mean statewide wage: $56,390

Substance abuse/behavioral disorder counselors

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 2.2 percent

Average annual openings: 21

Mean statewide wage: $35,575

Computer systems analyst

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 2.4 percent

Average annual openings: 39

Mean statewide wage: $78,478

Security guard

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 1.9 percent

Average annual openings: 52

Mean wage statewide: $28,790

Multimedia artists and animators

Projected annual growth, 2006-2016: 3.4 percent

Average annual openings: 31

Mean statewide wage: $57,515

When people talk about the good news in the local job market, they invariably return to two kinds of work: health care and education.

Those two pillars of the jobs scene are considered among the most resistant to recessions, and they make up a big part of overall employment in the Inland Northwest.

But they’re not the only source of good news in the local jobs arena. Though Spokane County’s unemployment rate has hovered around 10 percent the past couple of months, there remain many pockets of small, steady job growth projected for the next several years.

Are you a multimedia artist or animator? Look for a projected 31 new jobs a year through 2016.

A massage therapist? A security guard? An aerobics instructor?

All are predicted to show steady, modest growth over the next several years. The number and variety of jobs is one of the hallmarks of the Spokane job market, said Doug Tweedy, regional labor economist with the Employment Security Department.

“It’s much more diverse here,” he said. “We don’t have the golden geese like the Boeings and Microsofts.”

The five largest employment categories in the county – health care, education, manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing – account for about 116,000 jobs. That’s not quite half the labor force.

In Kootenai County, where unemployment rates are at 7.3 percent, the hot jobs in the next few years include lots of health care positions – but also plenty of niches such as loan officers (22 new positions a year expected through 2016), corrections officers (13 new jobs a year), accountants and auditors (11 new jobs a year), and retail sales managers (51 new jobs a year).

Daro Walker, a partner in Spokane’s ILF Media, has seen the boom in multimedia art and animation firsthand. He and his partners started ILF eight years ago as a traditional film production company, and the demand for multimedia projects and interactive Web graphics has been a key factor in ILF’s growth from five employees to 12 today.

Walker said the firm could keep growing in this business atmosphere, though he’s not sure how big he wants to see it get.

“I think there is unlimited growth potential there and you could probably get as big as you wanted to get,” he said.

Tyler Lafferty has also seen a growing demand for multimedia and Web-based production through his five-year-old digital advertising company, Seven2. Lafferty co-owns the firm, along with another called 14Four, with Nick Murto. Seven2’s staff of 14 has helped develop online ads, games and other applications for clients including MTV and AT&T.

Lafferty said that the recession has affected his business a bit, with some advertisers scaling back, but he foresees a long-term pattern of more and more people looking to move their advertising and other functions toward digital platforms and away from traditional ones.

“In general, there’s certainly job growth in the market,” he said.

In addition to such already existing job-market niches, Tweedy said other markets will emerge from existing ones. For example, he expects the emergence of a green technology and energy-related field that is made up of jobs now developing in a wide range of occupations, from architecture to construction.

“It will be a well-defined industry,” he said.

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