Issue 18 | September 8, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
It is September and school is starting again for students in the K-12 system as well as at our regional post-secondary institutions, including Community Colleges of Spokane, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, Gonzaga University, and Whitworth University. Each school is approaching their instructional models differently, ranging from delivery solely via distance learning, in-person classes, and hybrid – a combination of both. These offer a lot of flexibility to accommodate different schedules and learning styles. We are encouraging unemployed workers to use this time right now to explore the many programs available so they can increase their skills, learn new ones, and earn credentials to prepare for their next career opportunity. Our professional career coaches at WorkSource Spokane and Next Generation Zone will help evaluate current skills and offer informed guidance to develop an individualized plan that leads to a rewarding career. The Spokane Workforce Council and our partners offer resources and expertise to help our region’s workforce successfully meet the challenges of the changing economy. For assistance at WorkSource, call (509) 532-3120 or visit To reach the Next Generation Zone, young people ages 18-24 can call (509) 340-7800 or find us on the web at

For workers looking for a job right now, we are holding a virtual job fair on Tuesday, September 15. This is a great opportunity to connect with employers in an easy-to-use online environment and learn about the jobs they have available. Registration is required, but there is no cost to attend. Click here for more information.

We are Stronger Together Spokane.

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Community Investment Dashboard
Labor Market Update
Unemployment Rate
Preliminary unemployment rates for July have been released, and Spokane County’s unemployment rate was 11.4%. This is an increase from the revised June 2020 unemployment rate of 9.7%, and is more than double the unemployment rate from July of last year, which was 5.0%. The statewide unemployment rate was 10.2% in July, with many of the rural counties experiencing rates well above the state average. Pend Oreille County saw the highest unemployment rate in Washington State in July, at 14.4%.

The sharp unemployment rate increase was due in part to the inclusion of those collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in the official unemployment total, which also increased the total labor force figure. Many of these gig workers and independent contractors typically do not appear in official employment counts, as their working situations do not normally pay into the unemployment trust fund and their data is not captured.
Initial Claims
For the week ending August 29, new weekly initial regular unemployment claims decreased from 1,057 to 1,040 in Spokane County, a 2% decrease from the week before. The continued decrease in weekly initial claims is a sign that Spokane is no longer seeing record levels of newly unemployed workers. The current level of weekly initial claims for unemployment is still slightly higher than levels observed this time last year, with a normal level of churn in the economy.
Continued Claims
We track three types of weekly continued unemployment claims: regular, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). PUA is an emergency program established by the CARES Act that temporarily expands unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. PEUC is an emergency program established by the CARES Act that extends unemployment insurance for an extra 13 weeks to those who have exhausted their benefits. For the week ending August 29, continued claims by type in Spokane County were:
  • Regular Continued Claims: 13,611 (-4.1% from prior week)
  • PUA Continued Claims: 6,387 (-1.0% from prior week)
  • PEUC Continued Claims: 1,852 (+6.9% from prior week)
The increase in weekly PEUC continued claims is something we are watching closely, as these workers have exhausted the length of time allowed under regular unemployment benefits and are now considered long-term unemployed. The longer a worker remains unemployed, the more likely it is that they will experience difficulty finding a new job and retaining relevant workplace skills. The Spokane Workforce Council has programs and funding to help these workers find new employment or retrain for skills and certifications that are in-demand locally.
Job Postings
New weekly job postings have begun to rebound from the lows observed in April and May. There are currently 6,399 active online job postings in Spokane County. In the past 30 days, the occupations with the most new online job postings were:
  • Registered Nurse (197 online postings)
  • Retail Sales Associate (138)
  • Sales Representative (107)
  • Physician (107)
  • Retail Store Manager / Supervisor (99)
  • Laborer / Warehouse Worker (95)
  • Tractor-Trailer Truck Driver (93)
  • Customer Service Representative (91)
  • Office / Administrative Assistant (81)
  • Janitor / Cleaner Aide (73)
New Weekly Online Job Postings
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA, Burning Glass, and JobsEQ
Workforce Services Update
Since moving to remote services on March 17th, our campus has served 16,361* customers and 1,343* local businesses. Below is a summary highlighting the achievements of the past week.

*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. 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. We have 35+ employers registered, and still have room for a few more. Job Seeker registration also opened August 31. For registration and more information, visit our events calendar.
“I appreciate your help and support during these unprecedented times. Your effort is making a difference."
- Local business who received job posting assistance
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, collecting feedback regarding online services, and will be adding a new Apprenticeship Workshop 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. Career coaches are available by phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509-532-3120. 
Next Generation Zone
The team at 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 two of their students have been accepted into the Medical Assistance Apprenticeship program at Providence Sacred Heart. They are also in discussed with representatives from the National Youth Employment Coalition regarding sharing ideas about how to engage young adults during the pandemic, and have been invited to author an article on their strategies. Their success story for the week is a young adult who has been hired at a residential care facility proudly earning $37,200 annually.
Check out Next Gen's Website or their Facebook page for the most current updates, including their newest leadership video and marketing for an upcoming phlebotomy course.
“I'm so thankful for Next Gen and don't know where I would be in life right now without your help. It's nice knowing I have an adult on my side who cares and is looking out for me."
- Participant currently in NAC training
Spokane Resource Center
August was a very busy month at the SRC in large part due to two new grants awarded to the Spokane Workforce Council/Spokane Resource Center for housing assistance. The team is currently receiving approximately 150 calls each day, and since receiving the first grant have processed over $115,000 in housing supports (see Community Resources Dashboard above for details). Please visit the SRC website for more information on the rental program. In addition to rental assistance, the SRC continues to offer pre-employment and training services for customers looking to develop additional skills and prepare for new job opportunities and connects customers with a myriad of community resources.
“The help I have received from the Spokane Resource Center has been amazing. I have been able to concentrate on other things going on in my life, mainly my kids going back to school.”
- SRC Customer