Issue 15 | August 3, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
Two leading indicators that point to the strength of our labor market are initial and continued claims for unemployment insurance. The numbers of workers being laid off for the first time or still unable to find a job has been steady for the past few weeks. Our local economy was hit hard when the coronavirus initially forced the full and partial closure of many businesses, and the ongoing effects are still rippling through the region, affecting most of our industries. However, there are also bright spots and job growth is still occurring, with employers hiring across the spectrum from IT, to healthcare, manufacturing, and finance. Our economic recovery is proving to be slower than we hoped and uneven – but our workforce system is here to help connect people to jobs and skills development to start a new career, and offers resources to make it through these challenging times. 

We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
Initial Claims
Initial claims for unemployment insurance in Spokane County have continued to be filed at close to 2,000 per week for the last two months. For the week ending July 25, 1,927 new initial claims were filed. Industries with the most new claims for the week were:
  • Accommodation and Food Services (253 initial claims)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (220)
  • Administrative and Waste Services (204)
  • Retail Trade (166)
  • Construction (145)
Continued Claims
Spokane County’s continued claims for unemployment have decreased 50% from the high point observed in mid-May, reaching 18,047 in the week ending July 25. This level of continuing unemployment claims appears to be a bit of a plateau with the current Safe Start restrictions in place. As the additional $600 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has now expired, we will carefully watch to see how many more unemployed workers attempt to re-enter the workforce in the coming weeks.
One point of concern is that younger workers are currently experiencing unemployment at much higher rates than their representation in the overall workforce. 42.4% of continued unemployment claims in the week ending July 25 were from workers aged 34 and younger, while that age group’s representation within the total Spokane workforce is only 36.1%. One explanation for this trend is that younger workers are more heavily concentrated in the occupations and industries that are most impacted by the pandemic closures (for example, accommodation and food service).
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA and JobsEQ
Workforce Services Update
Since moving to remote services on March 17, our campus has served 14,296 job-seeking customers and 1,102 business customers. Below is a summary highlighting achievements of the past week. 
Talent Solutions
Our Talent Solutions Team continues to assist local employers with navigating remote hiring, promoting open positions and assisting with return-to-work resources. This past week, the team assisted 19 local employers during the statewide virtual Hire-A-Vet job fair, as well as assisted individual employers with virtual hiring events. Please visit their updated Immediate Employment Opportunities web page for information about open positions or for additional virtual tools and updates. 
"Taking steps to hire the right people is something we've needed to do for a long time and I appreciate your help. It is time worth taking"
- Local Business Customer
WorkSource Spokane
The committed members of team WorkSource Spokane continue to expand virtual services and are finding creative ways for promoting their content and honing their craft virtually. Most recently, the team purchased a new virtual assessment tool to support job seekers, which will be available in the coming weeks. As always, career coaches are available by phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509-532-3120. 
Next Generation Zone
The staff at the Next Generation Zone had another busy week. They had two more young adults begin internships and began checking out Chromebooks and Hotspots to customers, giving students access a complete technology package. They also created a survey that will be distributed beginning next week to identify new and unique education, training, and career challenges among 16- to 24-year-olds. Additionally, their Academic Life Coach created Part II of the Creating and Sustaining Boundaries video (click to view on Facebook).
Check out our Facebook page for the most current updates at .
"So far I'm having fun learning about the class. I was nervous, but after I got started I'm 100% sure this was the right move!"
- Student who recently began CNA training
Spokane Resource Center
This past week continued to be exciting and busy at the SRC. The team continues to serve as resource experts for a wide variety of topics, including housing, healthcare access, technology access and more. Since receiving the news that the Spokane City Council awarded us $500,000 in rental assistance funding, SRC staff has worked tirelessly to stand up this program and this week began processing applications for the hundreds of interested customers who have called in. Please click here for more information . Their Apprenticeship Manager has also been busy promoting opportunities, including emailing 150 job seekers about an opening with the Cement Masons, and assisting the Associated General Contractors with raising awareness for the Head Start to Construction program.