Issue 12 | July 13, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
Our unemployment figures had been trending down from record highs in the past two months, but the local labor market now seems to have hit a troubling plateau. Over the past few weeks, the numbers of people applying for unemployment for the first-time, as well as those who continue to receive benefits, is no longer changing as markedly. This reflects the degree of economic uncertainty as new cases of the coronavirus are persistently high and Spokane county remains at Phase 2. To respond to this and move us closer to our goals of economic recovery, tremendous efforts are being made throughout our community to ensure that businesses have the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) their workforce needs to safely operate and so that customers can have confidence that they are secure as they shop, dine, and recreate. We all need to take individual responsibility and do our part to keep others safe and support our economic well-being by wearing a cloth mask when required. The pace of job growth across our area is directly linked to our community’s health, and we can each play a role in influencing how quickly we return to a robust economy. The staff and partners of our local workforce system all look forward to entering Phase 3 and being able to reopen our facilities and provide in-person services again. Until then, please reach out to us for assistance via one of our many virtual service portals listed below.

We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
In Spokane County, initial claims for unemployment insurance increased slightly to 1,998 new claims in the week ending July 4. This level of new weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance has been consistently observed for about a month and a half, and although lower than the weeks initially impacted by COVID-19, remains at an historic level compared to any time prior. Industries with the highest levels of initial claims in the most recent week were:
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (278 new weekly claims)
  • Accommodation and Food Services (262)
  • Educational Services (217)
  • Administrative and Waste Services (175)
  • Retail Trade (145)
With the flux of new weekly claims for unemployment insurance and some people returning to work, continued claims is the strongest barometer for the number of workers currently on the sidelines. Continued claims decreased slightly in the week ending July 4, down to 19,831 claims. Industries with the highest levels of continued claims in the most recent week were:
  • Accommodation and Food Services (4,136 continued claims)
  • Retail Trade (2,359)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (2,281)
  • Administrative and Waste Services (1,418)
  • Construction (1,344).
The continued claims number only includes standard unemployment insurance claims. With the CARES Act came provisions expanding eligibility, and new types of unemployment claims are also being filed:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is an emergency program that temporarily expands unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is an emergency program that extends unemployment insurance for an extra 13 weeks to those who have exhausted their benefits.

County-level data for these expanded programs has recently become available, and we can now share the weekly claims for PUA and PEUC for Spokane county going back to May 23.
For the entire state of Washington, since the week ending March 7 when COVID-19 job losses began:
  • A total of 2,246,216 initial unemployment claims have been filed (1,413,078 regular unemployment insurance, 447,232 PUA and 385,906 PEUC).
  • A total of 1,247,284 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits.
  • ESD has paid out over $7.2 billion in benefits.
  • 883,242 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid.
Data Source: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA
Workforce Services Update
Although the re-opening phases for our local economy are moving more slowly than we anticipated, we are continuously transforming our virtual offerings and enhancing how we serve customers in this challenging time. Since closing in mid March, the remarkable staff of the Spokane WorkSource Campus has served 12,494 job-seeking customers and 886 businesses. This volume is on par with the volume of customers served in an entire year previously, and we're proud of how staff has stepped up and gotten creative in the face of a myriad of challenges. Below are updates from each of our sites. We remain committed to the mission of cultivating a flourishing Spokane, together.
Talent Solutions
The Talent Solutions by WorkSource team is actively looking for virtual tools to better meet the needs of area businesses. As businesses slowly open, the team continues to field requests for assistance filling job openings as well as information regarding state rules and technical assistance on how to establish or grow e-commerce. The team is actively maintaining the Immediate Employment Opportunities webpage, as well as adding more tools and resources to the website every week. The team stands ready to assist your business as needed.
"Talent Solutions and WorkSource have been a vital resource for our small business while trying to maintain during this difficult time."
- Local Business Owner
WorkSource Spokane
As they have been doing since March, WorkSource staff continues to expand virtual services. Currently, the WorkSource Disability Advisory Committee, consisting of WorkSource staff and community partners, is in the planning stage for the annual Access Job Fair, which is held each October in honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. For this year’s event, the team has decided to offer the fair virtually to ensure the safety of staff and attendees. They are re searching various online tools to ensure the tool selected meets the needs of the disability community. If you are aware of a platform that might work well for this population, please contact Andrea Hixson at [email protected] with your suggestions. As always, staff continues to be available via phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509.532.3120 for more information.
"I'm deeply grateful and appreciative of you and your counterparts. Thanks for what you're doing!"
- WorkSource Customer
Next Generation Zone
The team at the Next Generation Zone is busy helping young adults gear up for a productive summer, and continues to find creative opportunities for young adults even in the midst of a global pandemic. The Education team will still be offering virtual instruction all summer at , and we’re launching more print advertising and a SnapChat Ad campaign. We are also working with campus leadership on a re-opening plan when it is safe to do so. Please visit our Facebook page for current updates: .
Spokane Resource Center
The Spokane Resource Center (SRC) is designed to assist members of our community with achieving economic empowerment by increasing access to opportunities and restoring hope. The amazing staff at the SRC increase opportunities and restore hope by providing services which address the Four Pillars of Opportunity identified by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development: 1) Economic Empowerment, 2) Educational Attainment 3) Health and Wellness and 4) Character and Leadership. Since closing in mid March, the SRC has become a virtual service center providing information and assistance, and their website is updated daily to ensure resources can be attained, including housing, meal sites, healthcare, free WiFi, and more. Call 509-867-8188 or visit for more information. 
"I really appreciate everything that the SRC did for me. You are a really great place, and I would not be where I am without SRC's help."
- Justin C, former SRC customer