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Spokane's economy during the COVID-19 pandemic: Data tool shows wins and losses

A data dashboard shows that Spokane shoppers have apparently stepped up this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit: Washington State Department of Commerce
Economic Recovery Dashboard

SPOKANE, Wash. — A new tool is providing insight into how the local and state economies have fared during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown and others unveiled the Economic Recovery Dashboard this week. It details various metrics that could help guide state and local leaders as they chart a path to economic recovery. 

The dashboard uses select data from a variety of sources to display the latest available status of employment, businesses, government assistance programs and consumer behavior. 

For Spokane County and surrounding areas, the dashboard reveals what may be an unexpected win along with some big losses. 

Spokane shoppers apparently stepped up this year. According to the dashboard, they spent $1,091,000 in June of 2020 —  that's more than they spent during the same month in 2019 and is on par with last year's Christmas sales. 

But many people in the Spokane area are still struggling. An additional 100,000 people have signed up for food or temporary cash assistance in Washington since February, with larger increases in central Washington, Spokane and the Tri-Cities, according to data from the state. 

Two months after reopening efforts began, Washington state’s employment decline is still 30% higher than the lowest point in the Great Recession one decade ago, according to the state. 

From February to July 2020, 90,000 people working in the leisure and hospitality industry in Washington state lost their jobs, according to the dashboard.

Credit: Washington Department of Commerce
Washington employment by industry

Construction has recovered 80% of its lost jobs as of June but leisure and hospitality has only recovered about one-third of job losses, making it the hardest-hit industry. 

RELATED: $125M in revenue lost with cancellation of Spokane's biggest events

Other parts of eastern Washington faced greater economic hardship than Spokane, according to the dashboard. Data shows a 26% drop in employment for Okanogan County compared to 3% in Spokane County. Lincoln, Douglas and Whitman Counties were also among those that were hardest hit. 

Credit: Washington State Department of Commerce
Economic Recovery Dashboard

According to the dashboard, Spokane County's current unemployment rate is sitting at 11.4 percent. That's compared to 10.2% statewide.

RELATED: 'We've been shut down since March': Mayor Woodward questions Inslee tweet on Washington economy