Issue 11 | July 6, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
In the midst of the ongoing crisis, this week I am happy to share some good news with our community. Last Tuesday, the Spokane Workforce Council received the 2020 Trailblazer Award from the National Association of Workforce Boards. This award recognizes one local board from across the nation that is a leader in working through partnerships to change its workforce system, expand its ability to develop comprehensive workforce solutions for its community, and significantly improve its ability to meet the needs of residents and employers. The board and staff of the Spokane Workforce Council are grateful for our many partners and service providers who continue to work with us to make our workforce system one of the best in the U.S. Our integrated service model has enabled us to pivot quickly to offer a wide range of services virtually, and although many challenges still persist, it has increased equity of access to our services for the entire community. We look forward to continuing to innovate and serve as a vital resource for businesses and job seekers.

We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
In Spokane County, initial claims for unemployment insurance increased from 1,789 new weekly claims to 1,992 in the week ending June 27, up 11 percent from the week before. This is the highest new weekly claims total over the last five weeks in Spokane. In the most recent week, the industries with the most initial claims were Accommodation and Food Services (252 initial claims), Health Care and Social Assistance (225), Manufacturing (183), Retail Trade (181), and Administrative and Waste Services (176).
Continued claims for unemployment insurance decreased by 769 claims in the week ending June 27 to 20,118 claims. This total is down from 20,887 continued claims the week prior, and 21,981 continued claims two weeks prior. The weekly decreases of continued claims has slowed significantly from those observed in late May and early June, which might indicate a new baseline of the number of workers who remain on active unemployment claims under the current economic conditions.
United Way recently released an updated ALICE report, incorporating data from 2018. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, and refers to workers who earn enough income to be considered above the poverty threshold, but do not earn enough income to fully pay for the estimated monthly costs of basic needs items like housing, transportation, food, healthcare, etc., based on household size. These data are looking at a time period prior to the COVID-19 impacts, so it is anticipated that a number of new people and households have recently fallen into the poverty or ALICE category as result of the current recession. The charts below show household-level data for the Spokane County ALICE population from 2018.
The composition of a household has a significant impact on its likelihood of falling below the ALICE threshold:
By geography, ALICE households in Spokane County are most heavily concentrated in the areas of downtown Spokane and just north of downtown. There are four ZIP codes in Spokane County with more than half of households falling below the ALICE threshold:
  • 99201 (Downtown/West Central): 61% of households below ALICE
  • 99202 (East Central): 55% of households below ALICE
  • 99204 (Lower South Hill/Downtown): 55% of households below ALICE
  • 99207 (Hillyard): 53% of households below ALICE

The full interactive ALICE report for Washington State can be viewed here:
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA and Spokane County United Way
Workforce Services Update
While our WorkSource Campus remains closed, leadership has developed a campus re-opening plan, ready to be implemented as soon as our county moves to Phase 3 of reopening. Click here to access the re-opening plan . In the meantime, the remarkable staff of the Spokane WorkSource Campus are continuously transforming our virtual offerings and enhancing how we serve job seeking and business customers during this challenging time. As of June 26, our campus has served 12,027 job-seeking customers and 875 businesses since closing in mid-March. Below are updates from each of our sites. We remain committed to the mission of cultivating a flourishing Spokane, together.
Talent Solutions
With businesses opening again slowly, we are seeing a steady switch from standby back to part- and full-time employment. The Talent Solutions Team is actively assisting local businesses by maintaining an Immediate Employment Opportunities web page, offering customized business services, and offering virtual job fairs and hiring events. The team is ready to assist your business, so please reach out with your needs or questions. Resources are available here , or email or call 509.532.3186.
"I appreciated learning more about WorkSource Spokane and am grateful for your willingness to help us recruit for our Foreman position."
- Local Business Owner
WorkSource Spokane
WorkSource staff members continue to expand virtual services, including hosting a very successful on-line two-week entrepreneurial course. The feedback from customers was absolutely amazing, and we look forward to offering this course again very soon. In order to assist those customers who could not participate due to lacking technology, we have purchased 50 Chromebooks that can be checked out as needed. The team continues to look towards the future, including trainings for in-demand positions now that businesses have started to reopen. Career Coaches are available via phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509.532.3120 for more information.
"This was a life-changing course; what a perfect time to change someone’s mindset! Being indecisive about your future can be very depressing, but this was so empowering and useful. No matter how many times you hear 'get up and move on' or any other number of clichés, the intensive course of two weeks finally broke through the fear mentality and changed mine to 'why, why not, why not you, why not now?'"
- Participant in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Course
Next Generation Zone
The team at the Next Generation Zone is wrapping up our education year and helping young adults gear up for a productive summer. We have over 127 GED graduates, with 22 of those occurring even in the midst of our classroom closure and virtual instruction. A big thanks to our group of volunteers including board members and staff who have delivered graduation yard signs to over 50 young adults over the last two weeks. We are also proud of the over 15 young adults who have gone to work or have started training in the past month— the team continues to find creative opportunities for young adults even in the midst of a global pandemic. We’re here to assist this summer, and you can look for our new ads in the next two issues of the Inlander and the July issue of the Black Lens. Please visit our Facebook page for current updates and to help us celebrate our graduates: .
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. As the needs of our community have grown over the past few months, we have been working hard to provide the resources needed to help stabilize our customers. We're very pleased to announce that the City of Spokane just announced that we were the successful bidder for an RFP to provide rent assistance to SRC customers. New staff are being onboarded and will start to implement this grant program shortly. While the center is still closed to customers, the amazing staff are providing services virtually, 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.