Spokane North Notes
A weekly bulletin of the Spokane-North Rotary Club
February 2, 2015
Editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Program Coordinator: Jim Minkler
Photo:  Eric Johnon
Volunteers needed now
          For the club’s annual fund-raising event to succeed, all members, in addition to selling or buying tickets, need to volunteer to help in some way, said event coordinator Jodi Harland.  Focus of the event is the Hawaiian-themed dinner and party, Thursday, June 4, 6 to 10 p.m. at The Backyard, 1811 W. Broadway.
          The fund-raising goal is $12,000 to $15,000 to support year-long programs and activities for needy kids at Holmes Elementary.
          Sign-up sheets are available in the following areas of activity:
          Finance.  Join Nancy Hanson and Alyson Stockton on the committee which logs in donor dollars, checks in party-goers and receives the proceeds from raffles, games, auction items and other donations.
          Decorations.  Party planning, coordinating and executing details before and during the event to ensure that all participating members and guests have a good experience in the “aloha spirit.”
          Procurement. Steve Boharski, and a co-chair to be named, will lead a team in gathering raffle, auction and prize items.   All members should be involved in some way.
          Sponsorships.  Join President Jon Heideman and Brad Stark in soliciting corporate sponsorships, which should raise more than half of the goal.  Businesses donating $1,000 receive six tickets to the June 4 event; $500
gifts receive four tickets and $250 gifts receive two tickets.
Welcome, Sister ‘Bernie’
          One of the club’s new members is Sister Bernadette Mary Nannyonjo (she likes “Bernie”) from Kisubi, Uganda.
          Currently studying at Spokane Falls Community College, Sister Bernie, by a unanimous vote of the club’s officers and directors, was awarded a one-year honorary membership to Spokane-North Rotary.
          This membership category was first suggested by the late Don Spencer and is named for George M. Kuroiwa, a club member from 1955 until his passing in March of 2006.  Club president in 1973-74, George, who operated dry cleaning businesses, was a longtime supporter of human rights initiatives.
          Sister Bernie, born in 1957 in Uganda, East Africa, was one of 10 children in her family and one of five surviving siblings.  At age 11 she was placed in a family as a baby sitter, a job which helped her raise money for school tuition.  She began religious training after high school and was sent to Nairobi, Kenya, to study theology and social work.
          As a missionary in Mozambique she learned Portuguese and taught English.  Two years later she returned to Uganda, trained as a preschool teacher, and was posted in “a slum area” to develop a preschool for disadvantaged children and orphans.  Her next posting was to Cabana Nursery School in Kisubi, Uganda, where she says, “most of the children are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS and others are from very poor families.”  She is trying to develop the facility into a grade school. 
          Sister Bernie says she “loves to work with children and find resources to help them with their education, health and food.”  She also likes singing, dancing and “driving long distances for sightseeing.”
The numbers show recovery is real
          Doug Tweedy is a numbers guy.
          That’s good because Tweedy is the Eastern Washington Economist for the Labor Market and Economic Analysis branch of the Washington State Employment Security Department.  His agency collects, analyses and distributes market information for the state.
          In his Feb. 2 talk to the club, Tweedy started with a rhetorical question and answer: “People want to know where this recovery is…and are we back to where we were?”
Answer: “No, but we are really close.”
          And he shared six pages of graphs to prove it.
          “This (bursting of the mortgage-credit bubble in 2007) was my sixth recession as an economist and by far the longest (lasting into 2009),” Tweedy said.
          “But it’s amazing how we came out of it,” he said.  “We have gained 16,000 jobs in the last two years (in Spokane County) and are just 3,000 jobs below the peak” of 221,900 seven years ago.
          “Your club’s focus – youth – is mine, too,” Tweedy said.  “All of us are retiring and there are not enough workers in the ‘X and Y generations’ to replace us.”  In just the last six months, he said, the workforce has lost 3,000 people to retirement.  Some of the gap will be taken up by technology, but there still will be a large gap, he said.   
          Part of the problem with the proliferation of new technology, Tweedy said, is that many of the traditional “first jobs” young people take to get experience are disappearing.  He said the unemployment rate among 18 and 19 year olds is 30 percent. 
          “And employers want to see work experience on an applicant’s resume,” he said.  “It’s the number one reason employers hire someone.”
          Tweedy added that “Spokane is losing its labor pool” as graduates from area colleges and universities move elsewhere to find those first jobs, or any jobs.
          He implores local businesses to hire interns or develop mentoring programs to give young adults that valuable initial work experience.
          Tweedy’s charts show a countywide “labor force” drop from 238,370 in 2008 to 221,830 last year and an unemployment drop from 23,180 in 2010 to 14,820 in 2014.  Total wages, not including benefits, have continued slow growth, he said.
          Asked about statewide market comparisons, Tweedy said economic recovery has been quicker in King County but about the same as here in Clark County (Vancouver), Everett and Bellingham.  The Tri-Cities, he said, skew differently because of the high proportion of federal jobs involved with Hanford clean-up and other activities.
          He notes that some older workers are staying on the job past age 65 – “thank goodness.”
          Asked about the impacts of a $15-an-hour minimum wage in some western Washington locales, Tweedy said he “can see that working” in some Seattle areas, but Idaho’s (and the federal) minimum wage are about $3 an hour less than Washington’s.