Spokane Journal of Business

$760 million in labor income lost in Spokane County, analysis shows

Study factors an 11-week decline in county wages

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An economic analysis the first 11 weeks COVID-19 had on Spokane County starting in mid-March reveals a little more than 17,000 jobs lost and lost labor income of $760 million.

The report, conducted by Eastern Washington University’s Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis, considers the effects of the full shut-down of the economy during the first six weeks plus the Phase 1 reopening during the full month of May.

The study says, based on an annualized rate, the drop in income value, which is used to calculate gross domestic product, equals 24% all employment income in the county. Current trends show the county would suffer a $1.2 billion hit to the GDP for a full calendar year, the study says.

For context, GDP in the Spokane metropolitan statistical area in 2019 came in at $25.5 billion.

Patrick Jones, executive director of EWU’s public policy and economic analysis institute, helped assemble the study for Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward’s economic recovery committee, which is led by Gavin Cooley, who previously served as the city’s chief financial officer.

Cooley distributed the study to the committee on Tuesday, June 2.

Researchers then took the next step factoring in unemployment insurance benefits to calculate GDP.

“The addition of traditional unemployment insurance payments softens the impact on Spokane County economy, but not by much,” the report states.

Added UI payments would reduce the loss of labor income to $716 million, resulting in a GDP drop of $1.1 billion at the annualized rate.

Researchers weren’t able to factor in U.S. Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security Act payments or Payment Protection Plan payments to employers.

“The pandemic has clearly exacted a high toll on Spokane County’s economy,” the report says.

Researchers say the analysis could be extended once another phase in Washington state’s Safe Start plan to reopen the economy is enacted.

“Modeling the impact of COVID-19 beyond the reopening phases with an input-output framework is problematic,” the study says.

Production, sales, and consumption patterns are likely to change, and input-output models assume economic behavior is fixed, the study says.

Kevin Blocker
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