Issue 10 | June 29, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
In this newsletter, we highlight the data and trends that inform our decision making and share how the staff of our local system have been working to meet community needs. This week, our economic vital signs show that there are less people filing new unemployment claims and more workers returning to jobs as the economy continues to slowly improve. In the articles below, you can read about just a few of the thousands of people we have been able to connect with over the past few months and help to change the trajectory of their lives. We are proud to be able to connect young people to their future and employers to talent, and are working to ensure that everyone has access to economic opportunity in our region.

We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
Unemployment rates for May have been published, and the rate for Spokane County was 15.1%. This is a sizable drop from the revised rate for April of 16.7%, but is higher than the state average for May of 14.8%. Approximately 38,675 people in Spokane County were considered unemployed in May.
The weekly total of new claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending June 13 was the lowest level observed since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, at 1,617 initial claims. However, new claims are still being filed at levels which would have been records before the pandemic. Industries with the most initial claims in the week ending June 13 were Health Care and Social Assistance (264 initial claims), Accommodation and Food Services (211), Administrative and Waste Services (174), Retail Trade (129), and Construction (107).

Continued claims for unemployment insurance have also declined for four consecutive weeks, now sitting at 21,981 claims in the week ending June 13. Note: this total does not include the CARES Act pandemic unemployment assistance expanded claims.
Industries with the highest levels of continued claims for unemployment insurance in the week ending June 13 are:
  • Accommodation and Food Services (4,588 continued claims)
  • Retail Trade (2,944)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (2,577)
  • Construction (1,523)
  • Administrative and Waste Services (1,435)

The current economic impacts are being felt by female workers more than male workers, which is a stark difference from the Great Recession a decade ago, which was heavily concentrated on male workers. Of the 21,981 continued unemployment claims in Spokane County, 11,232 have been filed by female workers, 10,703 by male workers, and 46 by nonbinary workers.
With Spokane County’s economy reopening under Phase 2, an increase in new weekly online job postings has been observed, with two weeks in a row seeing over 1,000 new job postings in Spokane County.

New online job postings for the week ending June 20
By Industry:
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (219 new online job postings)
  • Retail Trade (116)
  • Finance and Insurance (75)
  • Manufacturing (57)
  • Education (51)

By Occupation:
  • Sales Representative (38)
  • Registered Nurse (31)
  • Laborer / Warehouse Worker (31)
  • Customer Service Representative (28)
  • Administrative Assistant (26)

Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Department/LMEA, and Burning Glass Labor Insights
Success Stories
In this issue we're taking an opportunity to celebrate success stories from around our campus, both before and during COVID-19, as well as sharing pictures of some of our Next Generation Zone graduates. Our amazing teams are fueled by helping our customers, whether that means helping stabilize someone on the brink of homelessness, helping someone achieve their career dream, or helping a business find their next great employee. As summer kicks off, let's celebrate some of the amazing moments from the past year.
Spokane Resource Center
Aaron was homeless but was eager to go to work. WorkSource provided employment services to help him prepare for job search, and he was also connected with the Spokane Resource Center to identify housing supports. Aaron’s first concern was that he looked homeless to potential employers. What he needed was a makeover. The SRC was able to provide professional clothing for his upcoming interview through the Clothing Closet program.
Off to his interview Aaron went, feeling confident and looking good. Two hours later Aaron returned to the center and relayed, “I got the job!” He wanted to let us know how much he appreciated the care and kindness he received from WorkSource and the SRC in helping him get a job.

To address the housing issue, Aaron also received basic needs supports to help him transition from homelessness to stable housing. Aaron couldn’t be more thrilled with the services he received while visiting our campus.
“I just wanted to let you know that recruiting at WorkSource has been a huge success, and since we've been working with you, we have hired 12 people.”
- Business Customer
Damion came to WorkSource Spokane after being laid off from a night security guard position. He was interested in pursuing truck driving but knew he lacked the skills and qualifications for that career. WorkSource helped connect him with CDL training at Drive509 Trucking, and he successfully earned his Class A Commercial Driver’s License in March.

The timing turned out to be very challenging due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Damion had no previous experience, and the entry-level jobs for local delivery companies began to dry up as routes were lost due to business and restaurant closures. Damian stayed in contact with WorkSource throughout this challenging time, and the team was able to connect with a potential employer on his behalf and explain the qualities he could bring to the job despite lack of experience. WorkSource also offered an On-the-Job-Training (OJT) option to the employer. This program supplements wages for new hires while the company agrees to train them on-the-job. Three days later, Damion was extended an offer of employment as a Driver with an excellent wage compensation where he will be home every night for his family, and a new employer in our community has been educated with the amazing assistance that the OJT can provide! 
“The virtual job fair was really good. I really like the chat room concept; it is much better than web cam for that type of event. I would be interested in doing it again. ”
- Business Customer
Next Generation Zone
Royale came to Next Generation Zone to finish his GED in March. Royale started working with Career Specialist Mike Glenn and earned his GED on April 23, 2020. Royale was interested in healthcare and was referred to a training program with New Chapters in Healthcare to obtain his Nursing Assistant certification. He started the program on May 11 and finished in just three weeks. Next Generation Zone was able to supply Royale a laptop to complete this course since it was mostly held online due to COVID-19.

Royale has earned his Nurse Assistant Registered certification, and his final Nursing Assistant Certified credential is pending due to testing centers not opening until July. With the Nursing Assistant Registered credential, Royale was able to obtain employment through Touchmark on South Hill where he was hired on as a Skilled Nursing Assistant. Royale started employment at Touchmark on June 18 and is now earning a wage that can help him gain financial stability and improve his life!

All of this has taken place during a global pandemic, and Royale has been homeless and living at Truth Ministries; Royale has shown nothing but hard work and perseverance during this time and is a true definition of success!