Issue 7 | May 29, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
It has been a bit of a roller coaster since last week as the overall unemployment numbers looking back at the month of April came in at a new record high while the numbers of people applying for new unemployment claims rose and then fell, as did people continuing to receive unemployment benefits. Similarly, we were also buoyed by the success of our community’s efforts to be granted a variance and enter Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan, but then saw an uptick in new cases of COVID-19 in Spokane County. This turbulence shows that we are not through, or even near the end of this event yet, but gives cause for guarded optimism. We are seeing glimmers of hope as businesses reopen and bring workers back, customers are shopping, and the nice weather brings families out to recreate – all at safe social distances and wearing appropriate PPE. We can expect economic growth to be slow out of the gate, but key industries - including healthcare and manufacturing – are figuring out how to adapt to this new environment and prosper in the new economy. Whatever comes next, the Spokane Workforce Council is working to understand the needs of businesses and workers and help provide the stability that will get us back on course to a thriving economy.
We are Stronger Together Spokane .

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Labor Market Update
The release of the first official unemployment rate covering a full month of COVID-19 impacts revealed record numbers across the state. Spokane County’s preliminary unemployment rate for April 2020 was 15.9%. For reference, Spokane’s highest observed unemployment rate during the Great Recession was 12.1%, recorded in February 2010. The preliminary figures estimate that 40,619 people were unemployed in April in Spokane County. Western Washington counties, which experienced an earlier and more widespread outbreak of COVID-19, are experiencing even higher levels of unemployment, with Snohomish County at 20.2%, the highest unemployment rate in the state.
For the week ending May 16, Spokane County had 36,112 continued unemployment claims on record. These are unemployment claims that were deemed eligible and paid out in the current week, as well as paid out in the prior week. This total was up from 33,958 continued claims from the week prior. Below, you can see the impacts of the continued claims recorded for the week of May 16 broken out by industry, age, and education attainment.
Continued claims by Age
Continued claims by education level
New online job postings are considered a leading indicator, as they capture the anticipated hiring needs of businesses posting available jobs. We follow these new online job postings closely to understand what industries and employers are currently hiring, as well as what types of occupations and skillsets are being sought after. As Spokane County was granted approval to enter Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan on Friday May 22 nd , we will continue to closely track the hiring needs of local businesses and connect workers with those available opportunities.
In the week ending May 23, the businesses with the most new online job postings in Spokane County were:
  • MultiCare Health (41 new online job postings)
  • Great Clips (20)
  • Touchmark (16)
  • Providence Health and Services (12)
  • Lowe’s (9)
  • Victoria’s Secret (9)
  • Safeway (8)
  • Dollar Tree (8)
  • Staples (7)
  • ABM Industries (7)
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Department/LMEA, Burning Glass Labor Insights, and Chmura JobsEQ.
Service Delivery Updates
Our WorkSource Campus remains closed for the near future, and we are simultaneously planning for a phased re-opening as well as continuously transforming our virtual offerings and enhancing how we serve job seeking and business customers in this challenging time. Since closing in mid-March, the remarkable staff of the Spokane WorkSource Campus has served 9,975 job-seeking customers and 660 businesses. 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 to SharedWork or back to full-time employment, as can be seen on the sharp up-tick in businesses seeking assistance with immediate openings this past week (see graph below). The Talent Solutions Team worked with the Spokane Workforce Council and partners at the Washington Employment Security Department to offer a timely Virtual Job Fair last Thursday, May 21. The event was at full capacity with 30 businesses represented and 370 job candidates. In total, 79% of the chats resulted in interest in candidates with 54 interviews scheduled by the end of the event. Sp okane 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, and we're looking forward to hosting another Virtual Job Fair soon.
"It's great to have access to services and a team that thinks ahead and quickly adapts to changes happening in the world."
- Local Employer
WorkSource Spokane
WorkSource staff continues to expand virtual services, including the development of an on-line two-week course for those interested in starting their own business. Since closing their doors in mid-March, the remarkable 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 continues to look towards the future, including training options for in-demand positions now that businesses have started reopened. Staff is available via phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509.532.3120 for more information.
Next Generation Zone
The inventive staff at the Next Generation Zone continue to serve young adults virtually, including offering GED classes in partnership with the Community Colleges of Spokane (Spokane Community College) and NEWESD 101. We are excited to deliver lawn signs for our 115 graduates to celebrate their accomplishments. Please visit our Facebook page for updates: .
"You are a lifesaver. An absolute lifesaver."
- SRC customer
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 increase opportunities and restore hope 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. We are beginning to see a shift in the types of resources customers are seeking, with an uptick in needs for pre-employment, housing, and food assistance. The amazing team has done an incredible job pivoting to provide the services needed in any given week. Call 509-867-8188 or visit for more information. 
All In Washington: A statewide philanthropic effort was just launched by key community leaders, non-profits, business leaders, and others, to provide a coordinated relief effort to support those most affected by the mounting challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, has signed onto the effort with a $25 million matching pledge. The Innovia Foundation is leading the effort locally, and any gift donated through Innovia will be doubled by this matching pledge and re-deployed directly into our community. $10 turns into $20, $100 turns into $200, and $10,000 turns into $20,000. Read this week’s Spokesman-Review article about this initiative here , and make a donation at .     

Fraud Recovery: The Washington State Employment Security Department has been working with federal law enforcement and financial institutions around the country to identify and recover Unemployment Insurance payments made to criminals who used stolen personal information to file bogus claims . They have recovered $300M for the state so far. Read more at