Issue 21 | October 26, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
As of last Friday, the Spokane Workforce Council (SWC) has disbursed almost $1.2 million in rental, mortgage and utility assistance grant funds made available from the city of Spokane and Spokane County to eligible residents across our community. We have also received an additional $100,000 from the city of Spokane dedicated to helping young people with rental assistance and have begun the process to distribute those needed funds.

The economic situation for many of our workers remains the same and we are seeing slightly less new claims for unemployment as fewer people are now being laid off for the first time. However, we are seeing more people move on to the next phase of “extended benefits” as their jobs still have not returned and the economy is not yet creating new employment opportunities that they can readily transition into.

We are also closely watching another group of unemployed workers who have been receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits under the federal CARES Act passed earlier this year in March. These are people who were previously self-employed, contract, gig, and other workers – and their benefits will expire on December 26, 2020.

The SWC is reaching out to everyone currently receiving unemployment to ensure that these workers quickly access the wide array of training and reemployment resources we have available to chart a new course forward. If you or someone you know needs help getting back into the workforce, please get in touch with our staff at WorkSource Spokane or call (509) 532-3120.

We are Stronger Together Spokane.

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Community Investment Dashboard

Tracking the SWC's Investment in Our Community's Recovery
Labor Market Update

The unemployment rate in Spokane County decreased to 7.7% in September, down from the revised August unemployment rate of 9.1%. In addition to the total level of unemployed workers falling by over 4,000, the number of employed workers and total labor force also declined month to month.

In Spokane, there are almost 6,500 fewer people considered to be a part the labor force in September 2020 than in the same month last year. The pandemic has resulted in steep declines in the labor force participation rate nationally, with female workers most heavily affected.
September 2020 | County Unemployment Rates (not seasonally adjusted)

After a one-week spike, weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance in Spokane County decreased to 962 in the week ending October 17, down 30% from the prior week.

For the past two months, approximately 1,000 new weekly initial claims for unemployment have been observed each week, outside of the week ending October 10, which saw 1,375 initial claims.

Continued unemployment claims are a more steady barometer of unemployment trends than the weekly initial claims totals.

We track multiple types of claims including regular claims, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims (expanded unemployment for gig, contract, and part-time work), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims (additional 13 weeks of unemployment).

Regular unemployment claims have been steadily decreasing for months. However, PUA claims have decreased much more slowly, and PEUC claims are increasing rapidly. PEUC claims are an indication of long term unemployed workers who have fully exhausted their 26 weeks of regular unemployment claims and are now on a 13-week emergency extension. Spokane County now has over 4,000 of these PEUC claimants.
Continued Claims in the Week Ending October 17 in Spokane County by type:
  • Regular Continued Claims: 7,931 (-8.8% decrease from prior week)
  • PUA Continued Claims: 5,716 (-0.1% decrease from prior week)
  • PEUC Continued Claims: 4,004 (9.1% increase from prior week)
Weekly Continued Claims by Type | Spokane County

Spokane County saw 4,273 new online job postings in the month of September, a 15% decrease from the August total of 5,025 new online postings.

Here is an overview of job postings for the month of September:
Weekly New Online Job Postings
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 23,999* customers and 1,733* local businesses. 

Below are highlights from the past three weeks and a summary of new projects and initiatives across our campus.
*Duplicate count if they needed multiple virtual assistance appointments.