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Spokane County Profile

Overview | Geographic facts | Outlook | Labor force and unemployment |
Industry employment | Wages and Income | Population


Regional context

Spokane County is situated east of the Cascade Range and on the western slope of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains next to the Idaho border. Spokane County ranks in the middle of other counties in terms of land area, which was 1,763.79 square miles in 2010. It was the eighth most densely populated county at 267.2 persons per square mile in 2010. Spokane is the most populous county in Eastern Washington, and ranks fourth in the state.

The city of Spokane is the second-largest city in Washington state. It serves as the business, transportation, medical, industrial and cultural hub of the region, the inland Northwest. In 2013, the city of Spokane had 211,300 residents, 44.0 percent of the county’s population.

Local economy

Spokane County was created by an act passed by the Territorial Assembly in 1858. After settlement in the 1870s, Spokane became the hub in the inland Northwest for mining, timber and railroad activities.

Of all the forces that shaped the Spokane County economy, none is more powerful than Spokane’s historic role as a regional center of services for the surrounding rural populations of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Regional services include government and higher education, medical services, retail trade and finance.

Fairchild Air Force Base is the county’s largest employer. In addition, manufacturing has had a solid base due to the nexus of the Bonneville dam power generation, rail systems and the Interstate highway system. Spokane is competitive with other urban centers in attracting national and international investment in the form of tourism and conventions, the military and research. These investments in turn support the creation and expansion of still other complementary businesses, creating a well-rounded and diversified economy.


Geographic facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Spokane County Rank in state
Land area, 2010 (square miles) 1,763.79 19
Persons per square mile, 2010 267.2 8



For 2013, there will be a slight increase in jobs, mainly in the private sector. However, most new hires will be in the form of replacements in existing businesses rather than in new businesses. The markets are continuing to recover. A backlog of orders and pent-up demand will affect a number of key industries, such as professional and technical services, especially in research, design and consulting and in waste management, remediation and clean water, transportation (aviation), advanced manufacturing, healthcare, the military and agriculture. Also, energy will become a well-defined industry cluster affecting almost every sector of the area economy.

Firms specializing in research, development and biotechnology that have made Spokane their home will play an increasingly important role in the area’s economy. Economic development will recruit health science and services. A new medical school broke ground in October 2011. In addition, other targeted industries include advanced manufacturing and materials, energy products and services, information technology and digital services and logistics and distribution businesses.


Labor force and unemployment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

Current labor force and unemployment statistics are available on the Labor area summaries page.

In the first seven months of 2013, the county labor force averaged 229,210. The unemployment rate was estimated at 8.5 percent, with 19,500 unemployed residents.


Industry employment

(Source: Employment Security Department)

Current industry employment statistics are available on the Labor area summaries page.

Spokane County is the largest labor market in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Spokane’s economy survived “The great Recession” and emerged more diversified. Steady growth is forecasted for the future. However the recovery will continue to be uneven and not all industries will participate. Construction was hard hit in the down cycle and will probably not rebound to peak levels until well into the future.

Spokane’s recovery is being led by five industries and some key developments. One key development is the new medical school. This development still in the construction phase is attracting interest from companies in health research, bio-technical and pharmaceuticals wanting to locate near the school. High-tech companies in manufacturing, scientific and technical industries have been by far the industries creating the majority of new jobs in the last half of 2012 through 2013.

  • For the first half of 2013 Spokane County nonfarm jobs averaged 210,200 compared to the average for the same period in 2012 of 205,500.
  • Goods-producing employment recorded 25,100 jobs in the first half of 2013, up 4 percent from the same period in 2012.
  • Service-providing employment totaled 185,100 in the first half of 2013, up 2.2 percent from 2012.
  • Government employment numbered 35,800 and is a concern going forward as Federal, state and local budgets remain tight.

For historical industry employment data, contact an economist.

Industry employment by age and gender

(Source: The Local Employment Dynamics)

The Local Employment Dynamics (LED) database, a joint project of state employment departments and the U.S. Census Bureau, matches state employment data with federal administrative data. Among the products is industry employment by age and gender. All workers covered by state unemployment insurance data are included; federal workers and non-covered workers, such as the self-employed, are not. Data is presented by place of work, not place of residence. Some highlights:

In 2011, the largest jobholder age group in Spokane County was 25 to 34 year-olds at 22.0 percent of the workforce. This percentage was closely followed by jobholders aged 45 to 54, with 21.7 percent of the workforce.

In 2011, men held 48.3 percent and women held 51.7 percent of the jobs in Spokane County.

  • Male-dominated industries included construction (87.7 percent), manufacturing (76.9 percent) and transportation and warehousing (77.8 percent).
  • Female-dominated industries included healthcare and social assistance (76.0 percent), educational services (65.0 percent) and finance and insurance (67.0 percent).

Wages and income

(Source: Employment Security Department; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Bureau of Economic Analysis; U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey)

In 2012, Spokane County averaged 198,607 jobs covered by unemployment insurance with a total payroll over $8.1 billion.

The county’s average annual wage was $41,055 in 2012, which ranked 10th among all Washington counties. The state’s average annual wage was $51,964 and the state less King County was $42,648.

Personal income

Personal income includes earned income, investment income, and government payments such as Social Security and Veterans Benefits. Investment income includes income imputed from pension funds and from owning a home. Per capita personal income equals total personal income divided by the resident population.

Per capita income reached $35,940 in 2011, 18th in the state. This is 13.5 percent below the U.S. average and 18.1 percent below the state average of $43,878.

The county poverty rate in 2011 was estimated at 14.9 percent, slightly above the state rate of 13.9 percent.



(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Spokane County’s population was estimated at 480,000 in 2013, making it the fourth largest county in the state. The city of Spokane recorded a population of 211,300 in 2013, 44.0 percent of the county’s population.

The county is projected to have a 0.9 percent growth rate in 2013. Most of the increase in population is because of in-migration rather than from natural increase.

Population facts

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Spokane County Washington state
Population 2010 471,221 6,724,540
Population estimate 2013 480,000 6,882,400
Percent change, 2010 to 2013 1.8% 2.3%

Age, gender and ethnicity

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Most of the people moving into the county are in search of jobs and tend to be younger. Even with the in-migration of younger individuals, the large swell of the baby boomers will continue to increase the median age. At some point, the aging of Spokane County may decrease with the influx of younger individuals who may stay in the area to start families and a concurrent loss of retirees who migrate out of Spokane County to follow the sun.

  • Two age groupings in Spokane County exceeded the percent of the state, the 19 and younger and the 60 and older.
  • Residents younger than 19 years of age made up 26.1 percent of the population in Spokane County compared to 25.7 percent in the state.
  • Spokane County’s population 4 years and younger was 6.2 percent which was almost identical to that of the state’s population at 6.4 percent.

Females in 2010 made up 50.5 percent of the county’s population, slightly less than that of the state.

Spokane County is far less diverse than either the state or the nation. In 2010, 86.7 percent of the county was white compared to 72.5 percent of the state and 63.7 percent of the nation. Hispanics or Latinos made up 2.7 percent of the population compared to 7.5 percent in the state and 12.5 percent of the nation.


(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Spokane County Washington state
Population by age, 2012
Under 4 years old 6.2% 6.4%
19 years and under 26.1% 25.7%
60 years and older 19.7% 19.1%
Females, 2010 50.5% 50.6%
Race/ethnicity, 2010
White 86.7% 72.5%
Black 1.6% 3.4%
American Indian, Alaskan Native 1.4% 1.3%
Asian, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander 2.5% 7.7%
Hispanic or Latino, any race 2.7% 7.5%

Educational attainment

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts)

Spokane County had more adults 25 years and older who were high school graduates in 2011 at 93.1 percent than the state at 90.1 percent or the nation at 85.9percent.

In terms of a bachelor’s degree or higher, Spokane County had slightly fewer adults age 25 and older with higher education at 30.4 percent than the state at 31.9 percent.