Spokane Journal of Business

GDP estimates for Spokane released for the first time

Spokane, Cd’A metro areas’ growth strong in ’05, new report says

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The federal government has released for the first time gross domestic product estimates for local-area economies of more than 300 U.S. metropolitan areasincluding the Spokane area.

The figures, released late last month by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, estimated the Spokane areas gross domestic product (GDP) at $14.9 billion in 2005, up from about $13.8 billion in 2004. In comparison, Coeur dAlenes GDP was $3.4 billion in 2005, up from about $3.2 billion in 2004, while the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue areas GDP hit $182 billion, up from $169.7 billion.

GDP by metropolitan area is the measure of the market value of final goods and services produced within an area in a particular period of time, the bureau says.

Randy Barcus, chief economist at Spokane-based Avista Corp., says one of the biggest values of having GDP estimates is that economic observers can match the GDPs of different metropolitan areas consistently to see how one area, such as Spokane, is doing relative to others. In the past, Barcus has had to use job growth as a proxy for GDP information when evaluating the health of metropolitan areas economies.

The benefit of this is we have better, comparable data, Barcus says. I think theyre indisputable figures and clearly represent the activity level in 2005 and change from 2004.

Barcus says he hopes the bureau will speed up the cycle time of the data so that more recent figures, and perhaps quarterly estimates, will be made available in the future.

The federal agency made more recent figures available for the GDPs of Washington state and Oregon. Washingtons GDP last year was $293.5 billion, up from $271.4 billion in 2005, while Oregons GDP grew to $151.3 billion in 2006 from $142 billion in 2005.

The bureau says it released the prototype statistics for evaluation and comment by data users. It says the estimates can be used to determine the size of metropolitan economies, tell whether theyre growing or shrinking, assess the impacts of natural or man-made disasters on cities, and compare industrial growth among metropolitan areas, among other things. The data also can be helpful when making business and policy decisions, it says.

Current-dollar GDP for the U.S. was $12.4 trillion in 2005, the bureau says.

Real GDP by metropolitan area grew in 327 out of the 363 metropolitan areas in the U.S., and was particularly strong on the western and southern coasts, it says. The Spokane and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue areas growth in 2005 earned them a spot in the second quintile, meaning they grew at rates that were well above the national average, Barcus says. Coeur dAlenes gains landed it in the highest quintile.

Some of Spokanes leading economic sectors grew steadily in 2005, according to the bureaus estimates. The health-care and social assistance sectors GDP was roughly $1.7 billion in 2005, up from about $1.6 billion in 2004. Meanwhile, the construction industrys GDP was $737 million, up from $668 million in 2004, and the real estate industrys GDP grew to nearly $1.6 billion in 2005, up from $1.5 billion in 2004.

Retail trades GDP reached nearly $1.5 billion in 2005, from roughly $1.4 billion in 2004, and the finance and insurance industrys GDP was more than $1.1 billion, up from about $1 billion. Transportation and warehousing, excluding the U.S. Postal Service, grew to $438 million in 2005, up from $397 million in 2004.

Contact Emily Proffitt at (509) 344-1265 or via e-mail at emilyp@spokanejournal.com.

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