Issue 6 | May 20, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
Over the past week, we have started to see more of a shift in the local economy as regular unemployment claims have leveled off and many businesses are stepping up preparations for reopening, including bringing staff back or recruiting new workers. As you will read below, we are excited to hold our first Virtual Job Fair to help businesses connect with job seekers using an online platform. In the days ahead, we will be increasing our use of technology to help our business and job seeker customers, including working with our partners from education to provide access to training programs and ensure people have the skills they need to succeed as they return to work. Our region is poised for a successful reopening under Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s plan, and we will work hard to be sure that all of our businesses have the workforce they need now and as the economic recovery progresses.
We are Stronger Together Spokane .
Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
Spokane County saw another 6,954 initial claims for Unemployment Insurance during the week ending May 9. This increases the nine-week total initial claims to 67,071 since the effects of the COVID-19 closures began to be felt. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has expanded the eligibility for unemployment, and this new type of claim has appeared in the initial claims data for the past three weeks.

One issue we are keeping a close eye on is Unemployment Insurance fraud. A significant number of fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed during the pandemic, as the unprecedented increase in volume of true unemployment claims makes it easier to submit a false claim. If you have reason to believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your information or used a scam to obtain your private information, please report that to the Employment Security Department:
In the week ending May 9, the industries with the highest number of initial claims were:
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (1,038 initial claims for Unemployment Insurance)
  • Educational Services (792)
  • Retail Trade (555)
  • Administrative and Waste Services (543)
  • Manufacturing (424)

Initial claims for unemployment insurance is a weekly total of first time applicants for unemployment. Counting weekly initial claims as a running total has some limitations, as the expanded pandemic benefits have caused some duplication, and people who filed for unemployment but later went back to work remain in the total claims count.

Continued claims for unemployment insurance gives a more accurate total of people currently on regular unemployment benefits in Spokane County. The graph below represents the number of people being paid unemployment in the week ending May 9 who were also approved for unemployment in the week prior. By this metric, there are 33,958 total continued claims for unemployment insurance in Spokane County in the week ending May 9. Note that this total does not include expanded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims (i.e, 1099 and gig workers).
New weekly online job postings have been approximately 40% lower in Spokane County since the COVID-19 impacts have been felt. In the week ending May 16, the top occupations with the most new online job postings were:
  • Registered nurse (25 new online job postings)
  • Delivery Driver (10)
  • Sales Representative (8)
  • Adjunct Instructor (8)
  • Customer Service and Sales (8)
  • Physician (7)
  • Maintenance Technician (7)
  • Licensed practical Nurse (7)
  • Custodian (7)
  • Class A CDL Truck Driver (7)
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Department/LMEA and Burning Glass Labor Insights
Service Delivery Updates
The WorkSource Spokane Campus is a network of organizations and sites that work together to support employment, career development, education, and local businesses with their talent needs. While our campus remains closed, we are continuously transforming our virtual offerings and enhancing how we serve job seeking and business customers in this challenging time. We remain committed to the mission of cultivating a flourishing Spokane, together.

Since closing in mid-March, the industrious staff of the Spokane WorkSource Campus has served 9,260 job-seeking customers and 600 businesses. Below are updates from each of our sites. 
Talent Solutions
Although many businesses are closed right now, there are still businesses that are hiring for both in-person and remote positions. The Talent Solutions Team is actively assisting these businesses by maintaining an Immediate Employment Opportunities web page, and is hosting a Virtual Job Fair on May 21 st where candidates can meet recruiters from more than 30 regional businesses, representing more than 350 open positions. This event is completely free, but registration is required for job seekers. Employer registration is full, but we are assessing interest in potential future events. If your business is interested, contact [email protected] v . Spokane was selected to host the first virtual job fair among all WorkSource centers in Washington State due to our ability to quickly organize such an event. We appreciate our amazing staff for being able to stand up this event during this time.

As the COVID-19 crisis has evolved, we've seen a shift in services businesses are seeking away from layoff aversion options like Shared Work and SBA loans toward either wait-and-see or a ramp-up in hiring. This past week our team also began reaching out to businesses to assess future needs, and that outreach has accounted for the majority of services in the past week.
"The work your team does is so helpful and so needed right now. It's amazing to just have someone to call to help us navigate through this."
- Local Employer
WorkSource Spokane
WorkSource Spokane is the only comprehensive one-stop career center for adults in Spokane county, offering career and education planning, workshops, career counseling, and more. WorkSource staff members continue to amaze by expanding virtual services. Since closing their doors in mid-March, the amazing staff at WorkSource has served thousands of customers remotely. While customer calls regarding Unemployment Insurance are slowing, the calls for employment assistance have been increasing. The team is also looking towards the future, including trainings for in-demand positions once businesses have reopened. Career Coaches are available via phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509.532.3120 for more information.
"Thank you for listening to me. I just needed someone to listen. I really needed WorkSource staff today. Thank you."
- WorkSource customer
Next Generation Zone
The creative staff at the Next Generation Zone continue to serve young adults virtually, including offering GED classes in partnership with the Community Colleges of Spokane and NEWESD 101. Students attending virtual classes continue to excel in their new environment with approximately 110 students having completed their coursework or being on-track to graduate this year. Staff members are excited to deliver lawn signs for graduates this week to celebrate the accomplishments of our students. Please visit our Facebook page for updates: .
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. The amazing staff at the SRC work toward that goal by providing services which address the Four Pillars of Opportunity identified by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development: 1) Economic Empowerment, 2) Educational Attainment 3) Health and Wellness and 4) Character and Leadership. Since closing in mid-March, the SRC has become a virtual service center providing information and assistance, 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. 
Working With our Partners to Make Spokane Stronger, Together

In the News: KHQ has been a title sponsor and media partner for our large annual job fair since 2014. This year they graciously pivoted with us to help promote the virtual job fair taking place May 21. Although we are hopeful that we can still provide an in-person hiring event for the community in 2020, we're grateful for partners to help us bring virtual offerings to the community in the meantime. See coverage here and here.