Issue 9 | June 15, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
Our area is seeing more positive results from the Phase 2 reopening of businesses as the number of unemployed workers continued its downward trend over the past week. Employers in a variety of sectors are posting jobs and hiring new staff – including healthcare, manufacturing, construction, education, and retail establishments – and the opening of the Amazon fulfillment center on the West Plains is creating additional opportunities as they quickly ramp up the number of workers. We anticipate slow but steady growth across our economy as businesses add capacity and more people begin to travel and take advantage of stores and restaurants again being open. Job growth will also accelerate this summer when Spokane County is approved to move into the next phase(s) of the Safe Start plan. However, there are still many factors holding back the pace of the economic recovery, some due to global markets and national dynamics beyond our control, and some in our local area that affect the ability of our workforce to return to their jobs. One of the challenges that has risen as a priority we are focusing on is the availability of affordable childcare and youth care for working parents. Without this, many of our parents cannot return to their jobs when they reopen or accept a new position and rejoin the labor force. We are working with partners from business, education, and nonprofits to think through and develop solutions to this complex issue and ensure that we support every worker and business and move our community forward.
We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
Initial claims for unemployment insurance continued to decrease in the week ending May 30, with a weekly total of 1,793 initial claims, the lowest weekly total since the COVID-19 impacts began. This downward trend in initial claims is a good sign for the local economy. However, weekly totals of new unemployment claims are still at levels which would be considered records prior to the current situation.
Continued claims for unemployment insurance have also dropped multiple weeks in a row. 28,977 continued claims for unemployment insurance were paid in the week ending May 30. Accommodation and food services remains the most heavily impacted industry with 5,600 continued claims, and Retail Trade and Health Care and Social Assistance both have more than 3,600 continued claims each. The impacts of unemployment continue to affect younger workers more heavily than older workers, with workers between the ages of 18 and 34 experiencing a disproportionately higher percentage of the continued unemployment claims as compared to their share of the overall workforce in Spokane County.
Continued Claims for Spokane County
Week 19
Week 20
Week 21
Prior to the COVID-19 impacts, new online job postings usually totaled about 5,000 per month in Spokane County. April and May, the months with the most significant impacts of COVID-19-related closures, saw significant decreases in new online job postings. The first week of June saw 857 new online job postings. It is still too early in the month to predict whether we will see a significant increase in new job postings in June as the Spokane economy continues with re-opening phases.
Over the past 30 days, the employers with the most new online job postings are:
  • MultiCare (97 postings)
  • Providence Health and Services (76)
  • Spokane Public Schools (42)
  • Washington State University (41)
  • Amazon (33)
  • Lowe’s (31)
  • Community Colleges of Spokane (28)
  • Washington Department of Health (26)
  • Great Clips (25)
  • Brookdale Senior Living (21)

Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Department/LMEA, and Burning Glass Labor Insights
Workforce Services Update
Our campus remains closed this week, but we are working diligently behind the scenes to prepare our sites to re-open safely as phases progress. All sites are still operating virtually, and our amazing staff have served 11,404 job-seeking customers and 762 businesses since March. Highlights from this past week include:
The virtual training page on the WorkSource website has been re-organized, and the workshop team has added new offerings, including an intro video for E3: The Mindset of Success, one of our most popular courses, aimed at equipping entrepreneurs for success in running their own businesses. See virtual offerings at
The Talent Solutions Team is growing! Team lead Sondra Barrington started last week, and a new onboarding plan is being put into place to help train four new staff over the next month. The team continues to keep the Immediate Employment opportunities page updated. Visit for current opportunities. 
"Your services during this crazy time have been a life saver! Thank you for taking the time to help me with my recruiting needs. Every company in Spokane should know about you and your team - what a great resource!"
-Local business
The creative team at the Next Generation Zone continues to innovate during this unique time. Work has begun on new projects, including:
  • Implementation of a process by which students can obtain a High School Diploma along with their GED.
  • Remote testing for high-school equivalency, allowing more students to complete their testing while the center is closed. Education updates can be found on the Virtual Classroom page:
  • Outreach on SnapChat started last week and has already led to 926 swipe-ups (follow-through from people who viewed the ads). 
"Thank you, honestly you've been nothing but helpful to me. I give my biggest thanks to all of you."
- Next Gen Zone Student
A re-model was recently completed at the Spokane Resource Center , including a beautiful new classroom and offices to house an Apprenticeship and Skilled Trades Center. Despite the challenges of COVID, registered apprenticeship programs are still recruiting students, and businesses are still hiring workers in the skilled trades sector. While we wait for in-person services to become possible, our Apprenticeship Coordinator has been working remotely to network and help connect employers and training providers with students and job seekers.

The SRC is likely to be the first site on our campus that will re-open for customers, and lots of planning is going on behind the scenes, including purchasing Personal Protective Equipment and re-organizing the space for effective social distancing once open. Virtual offerings and updates can be found at