Issue 17 | August 24, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
This week in addition to economic and labor market data, we are introducing a new tool to track COVID-related investments in our community. The SWC is partnering with our local governments to help with providing housing payment assistance during this economic downturn. We have been awarded over $1.5M, and our staff and amazing service providers are working hard to get these funds into the hands of people so they can catch up on their past due rent and mortgages and think about their next steps. As new resources come in, we will use this tool to report on their use as well, to help provide a broader measure of the impact on our community’s well-being. 

We are Stronger Together Spokane.

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Community Investment Dashboard
Labor Market Update
Initial Claims
Spokane County’s initial claims for unemployment insurance continued to decline, and for the week ending August 15, 1,243 new claims for unemployment were filed. Approximately 900 weekly unemployment claims were observed this time last year, with a normal level of churn observed within the economy. Industries with the most new claims in the past week were:
  • Accommodation and Food Service (182 initial claims)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (150)
  • Construction (126)
  • Retail Trade (102)
  • Administration and Waste Services (96)
Continued Claims
Continued claims for unemployment insurance also declined in the week ending August 15. We track three types of continued unemployment claims each week: regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) which expands unemployment benefits to gig, freelance, and part-time workers, and Pandemic Expanded Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) which expands the length of time an unemployed worker can collect a claim. PUA and PEUC are both new, temporary benefits created by the CARES Act, in response to the pandemic emergency. In the past week, continued claims totals for Spokane County were:
  • Regular Unemployment continued claims: 15,107 (-5.3% from the prior week)
  • PUA continued claims: 6,646 (-5.9% from the prior week)
  • PEUC continued claims: 1,596 (+7.3% from the prior week)

The steady decline in regular and PUA continued claims is a welcome development, as fewer workers in Spokane County are finding themselves unemployed as the economy begins to rebound. However, the steady increase of PEUC continued claims is concerning, as it indicates an increase in workers who have fully exhausted their regular unemployment benefits, and are now claiming an additional 13 weeks of emergency assistance. Below are the occupation groups from which the PEUC continued claims are currently coming.
The longer a worker remains unemployed, the more difficult it can be to maintain their relevant job skills and successfully find new employment. In the Great Recession, we observed a significant number of workers leave the workforce as discouraged workers after becoming long-term unemployed. The Spokane Workforce Council has resources and services to assist dislocated workers in finding new employment immediately, as well as for retraining to learn new relevant skills and certifications that are in demand locally.
Data Source: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA
Workforce Services Update
Since moving to remote services on March 17th, our campus has provided 15,715 services to customers and 1,239 services to local businesses. Below is a summary highlighting the achievements of the past week.
Talent Solutions
Our Talent Solutions Team continues to assist local employers with navigating remote hiring, promoting open positions and assisting with return-to-work resources. They recently published the Return to Work Resource Guide and updated the business resources page, as well as their fourth training on utilizing Zoom: Screen Sharing Tip & Tricks. They also launched an email campaign highlighting immediate employment opportunities to assist local employers. Additionally, they are preparing for a virtual job fair occurring on September 15. Please visit their updated their Immediate Employment Opportunities web page for information about open positions or for updates. 
WorkSource Spokane
The dedicated members of team WorkSource Spokane continue to expand virtual services, including offering statewide workshops to assist any impacted worker in Washington State. They are finding creative ways of promoting their content, with a new Apprenticeship Workshop to be available in the coming weeks. They are also creating short videos to teach job seekers how to use Zoom as well as providing other tips for job searching and interviewing during the pandemic.
As always, career coaches are available by phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509-532-3120. 
“I believe I had a successful interview today...thanks for your caring. Being my mentor when needed is huge!"
- Graduate of our virtual E3 Entrepreneurial Mindset course
Next Generation Zone
The staff at the Next Generation Zone continues to advance engagement with virtual education and career exploration. They are excited to announce that Pearson Vue is now able to provide online GED testing, which will supplement their current testing options. Last week, Next Gen Zone representatives met with youth transitional housing partners to formalize a pathway for young people in transitional housing to access virtual Next Gen Zone offerings. One of their youth interns developed an art contest for young adults to share what diversity and inclusion means to them. Mediums include photography, drawing, painting, spoken word, poetry or stories. Submissions will be displayed throughout the community as well as at Next Generation Zone upon reopening. Check out their Facebook page for the most current updates at, including their newest leadership video and marketing for an upcoming phlebotomy course. Other offerings are available at their primary website at
“I have offered David a position on my production team. Thank you for sending me such good peeps! "
- Local employer who hired a Next Gen Zone participant
Spokane Resource Center
August continues to be a busy month at the SRC in large part due to two new grants awarded to the Spokane Workforce Council being managed at the Spokane Resource Center for rental and mortgage support. The team is currently receiving approximately 150 calls each day and since receiving the first grant have processed nearly $90,000 in housing support funds. In response to the high call volume, SRC has updated the phone system to offer automated greeting to reduce the wait time. Please Visit the Spokane Resource Center website for more information
“Thank you for all your help with different resources. It was nice to be able to call in and get help with hygiene assistance. That is one thing I did not expect to get help with from the SRC.”
- SRC Customer