Issue 23 | November 23, 2020
Stronger Together Spokane:
Workforce System Response to COVID-19
I want to recognize and thank our board and the staff and partners of the Spokane Workforce System for their efforts to meet our community’s needs during the past eight months of this crisis. The pandemic has created enormous challenges and imperiled our economic and physical health.

But through it all, we have been able to adapt and respond by providing access to services and resources that are helping people make sense of it and move forward. Every day, our staff are seeking to better understand what laid off workers and impacted businesses are going through and ensure that the work they are doing is making a positive difference. 

We are not through this yet, and the recent measures to slow the spread of the virus will likely take an additional economic toll on our businesses and workers. But I am humbled and grateful to be a part of this group of professionals who extend themselves in service to perform extraordinary work and look forward to taking the next steps together to help all of our friends and neighbors successfully overcome the barriers we are facing.

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

For the week ending November 14, Spokane County saw 1,107 initial claims for unemployment insurance. This was down from the 1,510 initial claims from the week prior.

The industry that saw the highest claims over the past two weeks was construction, with 357 initial claims. These claims may have an element of seasonality, as construction activity is beginning wind down for the winter months in Spokane County.

Other industries with the highest initial claims totals for the same two-week period were Accommodation and Food Services (338), Healthcare and Social Assistance (277), Retail Trade (234), and Manufacturing (222) sectors. 

Note: The most recent initial claims data covers the time period prior to the recently imposed statewide economic restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases, and it is expected that weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance may experience an increase in the coming weeks.

Numbers of continued claims for unemployment insurance remained mostly level across all claims types in Spokane County for the week ending November 14.

The industries with the highest number of regular continued claims are Accommodation and Food Services (986), Healthcare and Social Assistance (811), Construction (679), Manufacturing (671), and Retail Trade (667).

After months of steady decline, regular continued claims began to stabilize, and both Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) continued claims remained even for the last month. PUA and PEUC programs were established by the CARES Act and are currently set to expire on December 26.

Continued claims by type in Spokane County for the week ending November 14:
  • Regular Continued Claims 6,858 (+2 claims from prior week)
  • PUA Continued Claims 5,265 (-4.5% decrease from prior week)
  • PEUC Continued Claims 4,054 (-2.5% decrease from prior week)
Weekly Continued Claims by Type | Spokane County

On a seasonally adjusted basis, preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate non-farm employment in Washington state grew by 1,000 in October 2020.

In October 2020:
  • BLS estimated the private sector gained 14,100 jobs, the public sector lost 13,100 jobs.
  • Washington’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is down 6% from the revised September estimated unemployment rate of 8.3%. For comparison, October 2019's unemployment rate was 4%.

County level unemployment data for the month of October will be released by our partners at the Employment Security Department on Tuesday, November 24.
Washington State Monthly Change in Employment

In Spokane County, there were approximately 90,500 residents receiving basic food assistance, i.e. food stamps, in the month of September. The monthly total was reduced by approximately 1,000 recipients from the previous month. However, this month's numbers are more than 10,000 recipients higher than compared to the same month last year.

The pandemic has put the issue of food insecurity in sharp focus, as food bank usage and basic food assistance enrollments in our community have increased greatly and remain at heightened levels.
*Graph adapted from the Washington State Department of Commerce's Economic Recovery Dashboard.
Workforce Services Update
Since moving to remote services on March 17, our campus has served 26,049* customers and 1,873* 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.