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Spokane County economy fared slightly better than Kootenai’s

Thu., Feb. 24, 2011, midnight

The Spokane County economy eked out a tiny gain in 2009, but Kootenai County’s economy was one of the hardest hit in the country as the recession retained its grip, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Spokane produced goods and services valued at $17.7 billion. Kootenai County yielded $4.2 billion.

Adjusted for inflation, Spokane’s economic output fell 1.9 percent from 2008 levels. Gains in education and health services, government, financial activities and retail trade were offset by weakness in construction, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and other segments.

In Kootenai County, output fell 3.8 percent — 5.8 percent adjusted for inflation — as slight gains in government and education and health services were overwhelmed by steep drops in construction and leisure and hospitality. Manufacturing and financial services also fell.

Eastern Washington University economist Grant Forsyth said the Inland Northwest lagged the U.S. going into the recession, and probably will as the economy recovers.

Numbers for 2010 will be flat or slightly down, he said, adding that performance should turn around later this year.

“The housing market just can’t get any legs,” Forsyth said.

He said he was troubled by a Wal-Mart report that sales at U.S. stores open at least a year were down in 2010, indicating middle-class families remained under financial duress. Spikes in oil prices, if sustained and passed on to consumers, will add to the economic headwinds, he said.

The BEA measured the gross domestic product of the 50 states, and 366 counties.

Only 58 experienced a bigger loss in economic performance between 2008 and 2009 than Kootenai County, an Idaho Department of Labor release noted. The Boise economy retreated 3.5 percent, 4.6 percent adjusted for inflation.

Idaho output fell 3.6 percent to $53.5 billion, with rural areas off 4 percent. The U.S. economy fell 1.7 percent.

Output for Washington was unchanged at $336.3 billion, but was down 0.7 percent adjusted for inflation.

U.S. output fell 3.3 percent on a per-capita basis. Idaho per-capita production was off 5.3 percent, Washington’s 3.1 percent.

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