We hear and see lots of reports and data regarding the national economy, but we do not often hear much about the economies of the Pacific Northwest. Today’s blog provides insight into jobs growth, wage growth and debt burden for the major cities in the Pacific Northwest. The good news is, overall, the major cities in the Pacific Northwest are faring better-for the three categories examined-compared to the United States.
I think it is useful to take a longer term view in order to give us perspective as to whether progress has or has not occurred. Month to month data tends to create noise versus perspective. For today’s blog all of my analysis uses December 2007 as the starting point since that was the official start of the last recession.
Non farm payroll job growth: what has been the total growth from December 2007 through August 2014? (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
1) United States: +.56%
2) Boise Metropolitan Statistical Area: +2.5%
3) Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area: +1.38%
4) Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area: +4.00%
5) Spokane Metropolitan Statistical Area: (4.87%)
Clearly, Spokane has some work to do in relation to the other major cities in the Pacific Northwest.
Wage growth: what has been the change in average hourly earnings for all private employees from December 2007 through August 2014? (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
1) United States: +$3.32/hour
2) Boise Metropolitan Statistical Area: +$3.36/hour
3) Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area: +$1.90/hour
4) Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area: +$3.51/hour
5) Spokane Metropolitan Statistical Area: +$4.12/hour
Even though Spokane has had the slowest jobs growth, the jobs that are being added are higher paying jobs. Portland is the laggard in the region when it comes to salary growth.
Debt in Collection: what percentage of households have some portion of their debt in collection status? (Source: Urban Institute)
1) United States: 35.1%
2) Boise: 30.4%
3) Portland: 29.4%
4) Seattle: 31.9%
5) Spokane: 30.9%
Debt burden is important to consider since it will ultimately impact the consumers ability to spend. The message here is that the average citizen in the major cities in the Pacific Northwest are faring better than the average American when it comes to managing their debt burden.
Overall, based on jobs growth, wage growth and debt burden, the cities in the Pacific Northwest are doing better than the United States as a whole. When it comes to jobs and wage growth, three out of the four major cities examined showed better growth than the U.S. and when it came to debt burden, all of the major cities examined are faring better than the U.S.
The perspective from today’s information is that, even though this recovery has been far slower than historical recoveries, the Pacific Northwest is participating in the recovery and actually doing better than the nation when it comes to jobs growth, wage growth and debt burden.
Steve Scranton is the Chief Investment Officer and Economist for Washington Trust Bank and is a CFA charter holder with over 30 years of investment experience with equities, tax-exempt and taxable fixed income securities. Steve actively participates on committees within the bank to help design strategies and policies related to client and bank owned investments. Steve also serves as the economist for the Bank and has been a featured speaker for both client and professional organization events throughout the Northwest.