Issue 20 | October 6, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
I am pleased to report that our team at the Spokane Resource Center has been able to disburse over half a million dollars in rental, utility, and mortgage assistance over the past three months. These grant funds from the city of Spokane and Spokane County have provided much-needed relief and helped individuals and families to catch up on their housing payments while their incomes have been constrained due to COVID. There is still more than $500 thousand available so please check out our website at for more information on how to apply before the funds expire.

We are also tracking another important issue affecting many people throughout our area – that of food insecurity. As the pandemic continues to negatively impact our economy with high unemployment and a sluggish job market, we are seeing more people receiving food assistance from the state of Washington in order to feed their families. We are also fortunate to have amazing organizations, including 2nd Harvest, the Salvation Army Spokane, and Spokane Valley Partners, among others, that are all helping to keep food on the table for many families in need.

The Spokane Workforce Council is here to connect people to vital resources, overcome these challenges and forge a path forward. For more information on planning your next steps, please check out WorkSource Spokane and Next Generation Zone and reach out to us to get started.

We are Stronger Together Spokane.

Mark Mattke
Chief Executive Officer
Community Investment Dashboard

Tracking the Spokane Workforce Council's Investment in Our Community's Recover
Labor Market Update

The unemployment rate in Spokane County decreased to 9.3% for the month of August. In comparison to this time last year, the unemployment rate was 5.0%. Although the unemployment rate has decreased significantly from the high of 16.7% observed in April, 23,524 Spokane County residents were counted as unemployed in August.

Statewide, unemployment rates are largely decreasing faster in the more populated urban areas than they are in the rural regions, and Pend Oreille County currently has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 11.5%.
August 2020 | County Unemployment Rates (not seasonally adjusted)

There were 1,056 regular initial claims for unemployment insurance in the week ending September 26. This represented a 7% decrease from the week before when 1,134 initial claims were made.

This general level of new weekly initial claims for unemployment has been observed for the past month and a half, which is seemingly the new normal. Current levels are still higher than weekly initial claims observed this time last year.
New Weekly Initial Claims | Spokane County

The number of new weekly online job postings in Spokane County has rebounded to normal levels that were observed before the pandemic, but remains volatile week over week.

Over the past 30 days in Spokane County, the occupations with the most new online job postings were:
  • Registered Nurse (182 new online postings)
  • Laborer / Warehouse Worker (157)
  • Retail Sales Associate (155)
  • Customer Service Representative (126)
  • Sales Representative (114)
  • Physician (93)
  • Office / Administrative Assistant (93)
  • Inventory Associate (92)
  • Retail Store Manager (68)
  • Janitor / Cleaner (61)
  • Building Maintenance Technician (59)
  • Production Worker (51)
Weekly New Online Job Postings
Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Dept/LMEA, Burning Glass Labor Insights

Throughout the pandemic, the issue of food insecurity within our community has been quite apparent, with food banks opening drive-thru services and delivery programs, and schools offering pick-up lunch programs for students and families.

The rates at which our community members have used these vital food services has been unprecedented. The number of people receiving SNAP basic food assistance, commonly called food stamps, in Spokane County has increased substantially during the pandemic.

In August there were 91,109 basic food assistance clients in Spokane County, which represents a nearly 16% increase in total clients compared to February - before the pandemic. With a total population estimate of 522,798 in 2019, approximately 17.4% of Spokane County residents are currently receiving basic food assistance.
SNAP Basic Food Assistance Clients | Spokane County
Workforce Services Update
Since moving to remote services on March 17th, our campus has served 20,552* customers and 1,600* local businesses. 

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

More businesses in our area are ramping up hiring and reaching out to our team for assistance with recruitment of new employees.

After the virtual job fair on September 15, many employers had interviews and made ob offers, and several have expressed interest in holding additional virtual hiring events. The team is in the planning phases to begin hosting small-scale hiring events for individual employers via Zoom. They are also continuing to update and promote the Immediate Employment Opportunities web page.
The team will be holding a series of bustiness-to-business forums for different industries to discuss the effects of the pandemic on that industry and for representatives to share best practices and ideas with one another.

  • The Healthcare Forum will be first and is scheduled for 11:00 AM on October 14. If you work in the healthcare industry, consider joining us. Click here to register for this no-cost event.

As always, any business in need of assistance can call the team at 509-532-3186 or access additional resources at
“I appreciate your help so very much, and your patience!"
- Local Employer

Employment Security Department team members who were pulled off duties at WorkSource to support the Unemployment Insurance division during the height of the pandemic continue to transition back to the WorkSource team. They are receiving training and professional development to bring them back up to speed in serving customers in our virtual environment.

As the need for virtual services continues, the team has been ramping up efforts to transform in-person workshops to a virtual format with the help of the Spokane Workforce Council communications team.

  • The Workshop team consistently provides seven statewide workshops each week, and new sessions of the popular courses Strategies for Success and E3 – Entrepreneurial Mindset began at the end of September, using a virtual format.

Career coaches remain available by phone to assist anyone looking for work. Visit or call 509-532-3120. 
“I got an interview, then was offered a position at the event."
- Virtual Job Fair Attendee

A ton of exciting work has been happening at the Next Generation Zone over the last few weeks. Highlights include:

  • New staff onboarding - Chris Brady is our newest GED instructor, and Jared Brown is our new Academic Life Coach.
  • New outreach efforts have been launched, including a billboard campaign and a youth-focused “Voice Your Vote” campaign to encourage young people to engage in the civic process.
  • Participants have been accepted into paid internships with Habitat for Humanity and Spokane Parks and Rec, and three participants were accepted into the Medical Assistant Apprenticeship program through Providence.
  • After a lot of planning, our first virtual 21st Century Skills Academy kicked off on September 21. We are checking out Chromebooks to students who have technology access challenges and will also begin prototyping limited in-person offerings to increase equity for students who have digital access challenges.

Recent updates can also be tracked online at
"I'm honestly so excited, I jumped on those tests when I got my first test score back. I've never felt more proud of myself. I feel like I can actually do this!! Thank you so much for all the help!!"
- Happy GED Student

The amazing team at the Spokane Resource Center has been working extremely hard to respond to the high volume of customers seeking housing assistance, and specialists are processing $12,000 in requests each day.

The chart below illustrates the increased volume of customers seeking housing assistance since we brought in rental assistant funds. Also refer to the Community Resources Dashboard at the beginning of this newsletter for up-to-date information about how much assistance has been deployed to the community. 
Although housing assistance looms large at the center, the team is still working to connect the community with a myriad of other resources, including financial literacy, healthcare, technology access, and masks for those in need of PPE. Select staff have begun to transition back to part-time in the office to be able to work more effectively.

Visit for more information.