Issue 19 | September 21, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
This week, our economic data is pointing to fewer people filing new claims and remaining on regular unemployment insurance benefits. Overall, this downward trend indicates that we may have seen the peak of layoffs across our area as well as an increase in hiring activity. We are also seeing near normal numbers of jobs being posted across a wide range of industries, signifying unmet employer needs. There may be a mismatch between the current skills of our unemployed workers and the jobs that are in demand in our economy – and we are ready to help! The SWC has been awarded a $1.02-million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide career information, skill development and training, and wraparound assistance to help people get the services they need to become reemployed and support our economic recovery. If the path to a new job requires refreshed skills or pursuing a new career, we have resources and information to help guide the next steps. Please reach out to or 509-532-3120 to make the connection and get started.

We are Stronger Together Spokane.

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Community Investment Dashboard
Labor Market Update
Initial Claims
For the week ending September 12, initial claims for unemployment insurance in Spokane County dropped to the lowest weekly level since the beginning of the pandemic impacts, with 1,036 new claims (down 3.7% from the week prior). Although regular initial claims have decreased, new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims increased significantly this week. With 440 new claims, this was a 46.7% increase over the week prior, and represents the highest level of new weekly initial PUA claims observed for the last 2.5 months. New Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claims saw a similar increase this week, with 522 initial claims, a 59.1% increase from the week prior.

Continued Claims
With weekly fluctuations more common in initial claims, continued claims are more representative of overall trends. In the week ending September 12, regular continued claims for unemployment decreased to 12,565 in Spokane County, a 3.9% decrease from the prior week. Regular continued claims have steadily decreased since the peak in mid-May, when 36,122 claims were observed. PUA continued claims also decreased 3.8% from the prior week, to 6,152 claims. In contrast, PEUC continued claims have been steadily increasing week over week, and now sit at 2,065 claims, a 3.5% increase from the prior week. These PEUC continued claims indicate a level of long-term unemployed, as these claimants have fully exhausted their regular unemployment claim, and are now on a 13-week emergency extension, authorized by the CARES Act.

The chart below shows the breakdown by industry of regular continued claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending September 12.
Job Postings
New online job postings returned to a pre-pandemic monthly total in August, with 5,021 postings. In a normal economy, Spokane County sees an average of 5,000 new online job postings per month, and the totals of the four prior months have been significantly lower than that. In fact, August 2020’s new online job postings total is 389 more than what was observed in the same month in 2019. In the month of August the top five industries with the most new online job postings were:
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (1,205 new online postings)
  • Retail Trade (535)
  • Finance and Insurance (340)
  • Educational Services (257)
  • Manufacturing (255)
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA, Burning Glass Labor Insights
Workforce Services Update
Since moving to remote services on March 17th, our campus has served 18,042* customers and 1,460* local businesses. Below is a summary highlighting the achievements of the past few weeks.

*Number includes duplicates of customers who have needed multiple virtual assistance appointments. 
Talent Solutions
Our Talent Solutions Team continues to assist local employers with navigating remote hiring, promoting open positions, enhancing job descriptions and screening processes and assisting with return-to-work resources. Most recently, they partnered with KHQ to host a virtual job fair that had over 500 job-seeker registrations. They are exploring online platforms that can be used for this type of service to meet our customers' needs through the use of new technologies. The team has also provided virtual layoff response presentations for businesses and workers affected by downsizing and closures and stands ready to offer this service should local businesses need assistance. The team continues to keep the Immediate Employment Opportunities web page updated to assist local employers. For more information please visit
“You are all awesome, and have such big hearts! You all do such a great job . I'm going to tell everyone!"
- Michelle at Edward Jones
WorkSource Spokane
Team WorkSource is thrilled to welcome back the Employment Security Department staff who had been asked to support the Unemployment Insurance division during the peak of layoffs due to the pandemic. The team continues to create short videos for customers, including how to use virtual meeting platforms, tips for teleworking and financial capabilities. While the center is closed it is undergoing some renovations, including a bathroom remodel and new carpets. Career coaches remain available by phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509-532-3120. 
“During the E3 course last month, I gained the confidence to apply for jobs I didn't think I qualified for, and I was offered a position by one of them! This course made a big difference in my mindset."
- E3 Course Completer (learn more about the course here)
Next Generation Zone
The team at the Next Generation Zone continues to provide online career and education services including GED classes, career exploration and job placement. The team is pleased to announce that three more students have earned a GED, and 10 new potential students attended a virtual GED orientation last week. The team is excited to launch a new and improved 21st Century Academy, which is available to any young person interested in learning more about careers and career development opportunities. They are also thrilled to partner with Better Health Together and others to support equity and access. They are also exploring ideas for best serving their LBGTQ+ students in a truly inclusive space. Visit their newly updated website at, or visit their facebook page to see their newest newest leadership video and marketing for an upcoming phlebotomy course. 
“Thank you for blessing my family and being so great. I've been able to supply for my son and it's so grand."
- Participant who needed diapers for her son and received
a gift card from the Building Changes grant
Spokane Resource Center
The amazing team at the Spokane Resource Center has been working extremely hard to respond to the various needs of the community, including access to rental support, wifi and healthcare. They recently partnered with Career Path Services to serve as an internship host site and are thrilled to have the additional help. They are so thankful to have been selected to offer a rental assistance program through the City of Spokane, and in response they are processing approximately $12,000 in requests each day. They are also extremely appreciative of the city’s willingness to respond to the community’s requested changes to the rental assistance program. Click here to learn more.

Additional recent highlights include:
  • Language translation functionality was recently added to the SRC website to increase ease of access to information about available programs and services. Click here to check it out.
  • The team has been receiving inquiries from other areas wanting to learn how to become an EnVision Center. We continue to be looked at as a model of the EnVision Center demonstration project.