Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane County unemployment rises to 4.4%

Spokane County’s preliminary jobless rate rose 4.4% in June compared to the prior month, according to nonseasonally adjusted data from the Washington state Employment Security Department.

The Spokane metropolitan statistical area, which includes Spokane, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, added 1,700 nonfarm jobs and 1,100 private sector jobs in June.

The service sector gained the greatest number of jobs with 1,100 last month, followed by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 700. The local government sector added 500 jobs while the professional and business services sector gained 400.

The education and health services sector lost 1,100 jobs in June, according to the department.

The county’s unemployment rate was 4.1% in May and 5.6% in June 2021.

Ford Bronco motor probed

Ford Motor Co.’s hot-selling Bronco sport-utility vehicle is the subject of a safety investigation by federal regulators for catastrophic engine failure that can cause the vehicle to lose power at highway speeds.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a filing Tuesday that it has opened a probe into 2021 Bronco SUVs that lost power due to a faulty engine valve.

The investigation involves 25,538 vehicles with 2.7 liter Ecoboost engines.

The federal agency said it had received 26 complaints from consumers but did not report any accidents, injuries or deaths.

It began considering an investigation in May after initial reports.

In a meeting with Ford last month, the automaker told investigators an “engine lockup” occurs when a valve spring becomes detached, causing interference between the valve and the piston.

“We are aware of a select number of engines early in the launch that exhibited this concern and we are investigating,” Ford said in an emailed statement. “We will cooperate with the NHTSA as we always do.”

No recall has yet been ordered.

Ford sold 54,842 Broncos in the U.S. in the first half of the year, its first full year on the market.

Ford’s shares fell 2.3% at 12:39 p.m. in New York.

Buyer confidence falls in July

U.S. consumer confidence declined in July to the lowest level since February 2021 on dimmer views of the economy amid persistent inflation.

The Conference Board’s index decreased for a third month to 95.7 from a downwardly revised 98.4 reading in June, data Tuesday showed.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a decline to 97.

The steady weakening in sentiment risks causing consumers to cut back on discretionary purchases at a time when the economy is struggling for momentum.

From staff and wire reportsInflation has dented confidence and forced the Federal Reserve to pursue aggressive interest-rate hikes geared at curbing demand.

The group’s gauge of current conditions dropped to the lowest level since April 2021.

A measure of expectations – which reflects consumers’ six-month outlook – ticked down to 65.3, the lowest since 2013, and reflected more pessimistic views of their financial prospects.

The report reinforces recent commentary from companies like Walmart and McDonald’s that show consumers dedicating much of their budget to essentials, leaving little leftover for other purchases.

“Concerns about inflation – rising gas and food prices, in particular – continued to weigh on consumers,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

“Looking ahead, inflation and additional rate hikes are likely to continue posing strong headwinds for consumer spending and economic growth over the next six months,” she said.

Current labor market indicators in the report deteriorated in July.

The share of consumers who said jobs were “plentiful” fell to just over 50%, the lowest in over a year. Those saying jobs were hard to get also increased.

The figures are the latest indication that the labor market is beginning to soften.

More companies including Shopify have announced layoffs in recent weeks, and weekly applications for unemployment benefits are at the highest since November.