Issue 5 | May 13, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
Our chief elected officials and Spokane Regional Health District leaders are developing plans that get our economy back in gear - while keeping everyone safe - as we look ahead to enter into Phase 2 of the Governor’s approach to re-opening. Business and community partners are creating strategies to help ensure that customers and workers will have confidence as they return to shops and restaurants and get back to their jobs. In preparation for this, the Spokane Workforce Council is offering skill development and training so people are ready for successful re-entry into their prior job or to make a transition into a new career. We are also assisting businesses as they make the necessary shifts and adapt to social distancing rules and the use of technology to interact with their customers and staff. We will continue to learn from our customers and address their changing needs as we increase our community’s capacity to rebound from this situation.
We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis have been felt for seven weeks, and 59,856 total initial claims for Unemployment Insurance have been filed in Spokane County over this period. Although weekly totals have come down from the all-time highs in late March and early April, weekly initial claims levels are still at record levels. Data regarding Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims, representing gig and 1099 workers, has been difficult to obtain at the county level, but some of those claims are accounted for in the past two weeks' total numbers. We anticipate having data to share regarding continued claims in the next few weeks, which will give a more holistic picture of the effects of the layoffs on our workforce.
The industries experiencing the highest volumes of layoffs over the 7-week period going back to March 21 can be seen in the graph below. Although Construction and Manufacturing are among the hardest-hit industries, looking at one-week totals for the week ending May 2, the picture changes just slightly. The industries with the highest number of initial claims for unemployment insurance in Spokane County for the week ending May 2 alone were:
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (738 initial claims)
  • Accommodation and Food Services (578)
  • Retail Trade (490)
  • Administrative and Waste Services (376)
  • Education Services (35)
New weekly online job postings increased in the week ending May 9, with 768 total new online job postings in Spokane County.
Although weekly totals remain significantly lower than prior to the COVID-19 impacts, new jobs are being posted, and in some of the industries that have experienced some of the highest jobs losses.

New online job postings by industry:
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (202 new weekly online job postings)
  • Retail Trade (69)
  • Finance and Insurance (52)
  • Public Administration (50)
  • Administrative and Waste Management (45)

Employers with the most new weekly online job postings:
  • Providence Health and Services (44 new weekly online job postings)
  • Touchmark (19)
  • Home Depot (16)
  • Lowe’s (13)
  • Spokane Public Schools (13)

The fact that some of the industries experiencing the highest volumes of layoffs are also posting the most jobs can be explained in large part by which services and businesses are deemed essential. In retail trade for example, hiring is being led by home improvement and garden stores, whereas layoffs are concentrated in retail that has had to remain closed. Going forward, what Phase of re-opening we are in will determine retail hiring.

Our online postings data is a week ahead of initial unemployment claims data, so we are seeing an uptick in health care and social assistance posting as elective procedures are allowed again. And in education, Spokane Public Schools has begun hiring specialized teaching positions in preparation for the 2020/21 school year.

Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Department/LMEA and Burning Glass Labor Insights
Service Delivery Updates
Since closing in mid-March, the tireless staff of the Spokane WorksSource Campus have served 8,500 job seeking customers and 550 businesses across our four sites. Each site continues to expand virtual services, ranging from webinars to career coaching to referrals. We have identified the necessary protective barriers and look forward to implementing our return to work plan as soon as possible. Below are updates from each of our sites.
WorkSource Spokane
WorkSource team members continue to expand virtual services. As customer calls regarding Unemployment Insurance are slowing, the team is now looking towards the future, including identifying training options for in-demand positions once businesses have reopened. Online offerings for computer literacy, veteran services, and assessments are under development.
Career Coaches are available via phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509.532.3120 for more information.
"Thank you for continuing to support our business. WorkSource has really stepped up to the challenge."
- Local Business
Talent Solutions
The Talent Solutions Team is hard at work serving businesses and adapting offerings to meet business needs. Their Facebook Featured Jobs events run two times each week, and the updated Immediate Employment Opportunities page is well used. Staff capacity has increased thanks to a partnership with Career Path Services which allows the team to offer additional attention to retail, hospitality, and healthcare industries. Employer registration is nearly at capacity for the upcoming Virtual Job Fair, so please register on the Spokane Workforce Council page if your business is interested in participating. Job seeker registration for the event will be opening soon. Spokane was selected to host the first Virtual Job Fair from among all WorkSource centers in the state due to our ability to quickly organize such an event. We appreciate our amazing staff for being able to bring this resource to our area during this time.
Next Generation Zone
Students attending virtual GED classes through the Next Generation Zone continue to excel in their new environment. Approximately 110 students have completed their coursework or are on-track to graduate this year. Staff is currently working on creating lawn signs for graduates so their friends and neighbors can recognize their accomplishment! Staff is also working on developing a High School and Beyond Plan with newer students, focusing on career and educational goals. Our Next Gen Zone Youth Ambassadors attended an IT focus group with the Community Colleges of Spokane to help with marketing ideas focused toward young people, and they are creating a Snapchat focus group that can be used to connect with young adults looking for a career. Please visit our Facebook page for updates: .
"We could not have made it without assistance from the staff on the WorkSource campus. Thank you."
- Charlene, customer
Spokane Resource Center
The Spokane Resource Center has become a virtual service center for anyone in need of information and assistance during this challenging time. Their website is updated daily to ensure resources can be attained, including housing, meal sites, healthcare, free WiFi, and more. Additional resources continue to be identified, most recently for housing, individuals being released from incarceration, and veterans. We are so proud of our community partners who have remained committed to the mission of the SRC, which is Replacing Challenges with Hope through Integrated Community Resources. That mission continues to be more important than ever during the COVID-19 crisis, and the SRC staff is ready to serve anyone in need of assistance, including referrals. Call 509-867-8188 or visit for more information.