Issue 13 | July 20, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
The Spokane Workforce Council has been awarded $626,743 as part of a U.S. Department of Labor grant to serve businesses and workers affected by the COVID crisis. These funds will be used to support workers at businesses providing humanitarian aid and to help train people to acquire in-demand skills so they can quickly return to work. Although our local labor market remains relatively flat at this time, there are open job opportunities available right now and we have resources to help prepare for these and new jobs that will be created as we rebound. As detailed below, we also received a $500,000 grant from the City of Spokane to provide rental assistance to tenants. These two grants, totaling over $1.1 million, represent a significant investment we are helping to make in our community to stabilize and improve the lives of our residents. 

We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased from 1,998 to 2,617 in Spokane County for the week ending July 11, up 32% from the prior week. A marked increase in initial claims came from the Accommodation and Food Services industry with 374 new initial claims, up 42.7% from the week prior. As confirmed COVID-19 cases have increased in Spokane County over the past few weeks, a number of restaurants and food service establishments have changed their operations back to takeout-only models or have closed, which has impacted the initial claims totals.

Other industries with the most new initial claims for the week were:
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (259 initial claims)
  • Retail Trade (212)
  • Administrative and Waste Services (201)
  • Construction (199)

Weekly continued claims for unemployment insurance decreased 2.3% to 19,372 claims in the week ending July 11. The current level of continued claims has been observed for approximately the last month, having only decreased by 1,515 continued claims over the last four weeks. The most heavily impacted industries are Accommodation and Food Services, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Retail Trade.
Continued claims do not capture those who are on expanded unemployment benefits, which were enacted by the CARES Act. Although significantly down from the weekly highs in April and May, new initial claims for PUA and PEUC unemployment claims continue to be observed in Spokane County.

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.
From week 26 to week 27, PUA initial claims decreased by 75 claims, a 10.9% decrease.
From week 26 to week 27, PEUC initial claims decreased by 73 claims, a 13.1% decrease.
There are currently 6,651 active online job postings in Spokane County, indicating that there are approximately 4 currently unemployed individuals across all unemployment claim types for every actively open job in the county. The most common occupations for those active job openings are:
  • Retail Salespersons (410 active openings)
  • Stockers or Order Fillers (279)
  • Registered Nurses (278)
  • Supervisors of Retail Workers (224)
  • Sales Representatives (177)

The chart below shows the difference in job postings for the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA and JobsEQ RTI
Workforce Services Update
July 1 marked the start of a new year for our programming, and despite our campus remaining closed, we are celebrating a strong start. From new grants to customer successes, we continue to strive toward the mission of cultivating a flourishing Spokane, together.

Since moving to remote services on March 17, our campus has served 13,220 job-seeking customers and 978 businesses. 
Talent Solutions
This team remains extremely busy, serving nearly 70 businesses in the past week alone. As more businesses ramp up hiring, they are looking for assistance navigating the process remotely and getting the word out without being able to use the traditional job fair model. The team has been developing new tools to help businesses navigate the many issues associated with re-opening, hiring, and calling employees back to work. Virtual tools are being added regularly – check for updates. 
"Thank you so much for the great information. I intend to incorporate some of your suggestions when I start interviewing candidates in a couple of days."
- Local Business Owner
WorkSource Spokane
The creative members of team WorkSource Spokane continue to expand virtual services. Some recent highlights include: development has begun on a desk aid for assisting customers with technology-related questions; our local workshop team has been asked to deliver virtual workshops for the entire state, and has delivered 13 in the past two weeks; and despite many training facilities remaining closed or only offering online courses, the team is connecting a steady stream of customers with valuable occupational trainings. 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 have started this month off strong - we already have our first GED earner of the 2020-2021 Academic Year, and we have eight young adults who have started a paid work experience or training. Even in this time of challenging employment conditions, we are continuing to seek creative ways for young adults to stay engaged in their career and training plans. Our Youth Ambassadors are beginning plans for a “Voice Your Vote” campaign for this fall to encourage young adults to register to vote and be engaged in civic issues. In addition, the staff is staying very engaged in a wide array of professional development opportunities available to us in a virtual learning environment on a weekly basis. Check out our Facebook page for the most current updates at
"Thank you for helping me achieve my GED. It’s been a very pleasant program that has been extremely important towards reaching higher goals as you said!"
- Next Gen Zone Student
Spokane Resource Center
This has been an exciting week at the SRC. First, the Spokane City Council voted to award the Spokane Workforce Council $500,000 in rental assistance funding to assist City residents in need through the Spokane Resource Center. We are implementing the grant as quickly as possible so that we can rapidly deploy the funds into the community, where they are most needed. We're thankful for our partners at Career Path Services for their hard work in helping carry out this grant. Click here for more information .

Second, SNAP (Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners) has announced that the SRC is the recipient of its 2020 Value of Community Award . SNAP has been administering their Mission and Values Awards for 10 years as its opportunity to honor community members for their partnership in SNAP’s mission. Shauna Meharry, the SNAP team member who nominated the SRC, said “The SRC and the staff that make it the success that it is are an incredibly valuable addition to creating client-focused partnerships that foster a sense of community in the Inland Northwest.” Click here to read the Press Release about the award
"Revive saved my life, and I am forever thankful for the SRC and Revive. I am doing great and do not need any resources at this time."
- Alexandra O, former SRC client who worked with partner Revive