Spokane Trends Blog

Welcome to Spokane County!

Spokane County and environs form the 99th largest MSA by population, but combines the best of both a large and small city environment. A large, rushing river runs through the County, with lakes and mountains within a half an hour drive. The community is home for four universities, a diversifying economy, significant sports and cultural events.

Recent Updates: Featuring Education


​0.2.3 People of Color Population as a Share of Total Population

The U.S. Census has estimated that the count of Spokane County’s Hispanic/Latinos plus residents all races other than non-Hispanic White numbered 103,000 in 2022. They represented 19% of the population, up from 14% a decade ago. The total share in the County is still far below the averages in the U.S. and Washington State, however.
Hispanic/Latinos made up the largest POC group in 2022, at nearly 7%, followed by two or more races, at 6%.


2.1.1 Median Household Income

Median household income (MHI) is central to measuring economic progress. The measure covers households, allowing for more than one contributor to a unit living together. And median offers a better estimate of the middle value of the distribution of income among U.S. residents.

The most recent estimate from Census, for 2022, put Spokane County MHI at about $69,000. This represents a jump of nearly $9,000 from 2019. The local value, however, still lies below MHI for the U.S. and well below the estimate for Washington.

2.1.4 Overall Average Annual Wage

Wages and salaries form the largest component of personal income. This measure tracks the average amount paid annually to workers in Spokane County-based firms, organizations and governmental entities. For 2022, the average was nearly $60,000. This represents a jump of nearly $10,000 from the pre-pandemic (2019) value.

In real, or inflation-adjusted, terms, the average annual wage paid by Spokane-based employers declined from 2021, however.

​2.4.1 Total Number of Employed Persons & Unemployment Rate

The number employed and the unemployment rate in Spokane County are based on a survey of residents, consequently including residents who have jobs outside of the county to be estimated. In 2023, the estimate was over 256,500. This was considerably larger than the pre-pandemic (2019) estimate of 244,000.

The average unemployment rate estimated for Spokane residents in 2023 was 4.2%. This was the lowest rate observed in three decades, and quite close to the Washington state and U.S. rates.

2.4.2 Total Civilian Labor Force & Labor Force Participation Rate of Population Ages 16+

The size of labor force is made up of the number of people employed plus the number unemployed but looking for work. It is a measure of the capacity of a local economy. The estimate is for residents and excludes active-duty military and institutionalized people (prisons, nursing homes). The 2023 estimate for Spokane County was 264,000. In contrast to other Eastern Washington communities, the labor force did not experience a decline during the pandemic. About 6,500 more people were in the workforce in 2023 than in 2019.


6.2.2 Total and Share of Renters Spending 30% or More of Their Household Income for Shelter Costs

A long-accepted rule of thumb for housing affordability sets a threshold of 30% of income. If shelter costs (rent plus utilities and fees) make up 30% or less of a renting household’s income, it is assumed to have affordable housing. This indicator measures the number and share of the County population exceeding that threshold.

For 2022, Census estimated that over Spokane County 42,000 renters faced shelter costs above 30% of income, or 54% of all renters. These are the highest levels and rates on record.

​6.2.3 Total and Share of Renters Spending 50% or More of Their Household Income for Shelter Costs

A long-accepted rule of thumb for housing affordability establishes a threshold of 30% of income. If shelter costs (rent plus utilities and fees) make up more than 30% of a renting household income, it is assumed to face unaffordable housing. For renters whose shelter costs make up 50% or higher of income, the household is said to face a severe housing burden This indicator measures the number and share of the County population exceeding that 50% threshold.

For 2022, Census estimated that more than 20,000 Spokane County residents were severely burdened by shelter costs, or 26% of all renters. These were rates slightly higher than those of the U.S. and the state.

6.3.1 Median Home Resale Price

The price captured by this indicator covers those for existing homes, not new construction. For the most recently available quarter, Q4 of 2023, the median price observed in Spokane County was slightly over $415,000. While lower than the peak set in 2022 of nearly $468,000, this middle value of the County housing market represents a jump of about $138,000 rom the same period in 2019!

6.3.2 Housing Affordability Index for All BuyersAll buyers housing affordability index

In broad terms, the housing affordability index (HAI) is a ratio of income to housing costs. In the case of this indicator, it is the ratio of median household income to the mortgage costs for a median-priced home purchased in the same quarter. The HAI is set so that a value of 100 indicates the dividing point between affordability and unaffordability. A value below 100 describes an unaffordable market for single-family homes.

At the end of 2023, the HAI in Spokane County stood at 71. This represents a remarkably swift decline from the value observed in pre-pandemic 2019 of over 100.






list updated 04.01.24

The complete list of Spokane Trends can be found here.

New Intern Feature:

Dorothy Bergland

Hometown: Spokane, WA

Major: Accounting

Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2025

Post-graduation plans:
I plan to get my CPA and find work in Forensic Accounting.

After a few months of working on the Trends project, my favorite thing so far:
As a lifelong Washingtonian, the Trends project has given me the opportunity to get to know my state better. It is very exciting to get to do this research for each county that they in turn will use to shape improved public policies.

About The Institute

The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis is a research institute for applied regional research that provides easily accessible community indicator data. The Institute publishes seven community trend sites for nine Washington counties, all of which cover a variety of factors like economic vitality, health, housing, and more. The Institute’s work is aimed to promote data-based decision making and provide readily available and extensive data for communities across Washington state.

The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis’s website has been revamped! Check out the new and improved website here.