A Message from CEO Mark Mattke
We have experienced a lot of volatility in our labor market over the past 14 months but lately, we have seen a marked trend in the right direction as the number of people applying for and receiving unemployment benefits continues to decrease. Cheers to Phase 3! We received more good news yesterday when the Governor announced that Spokane County would remain in Phase 3 of the reopening plan and not roll back to higher levels of restrictions that would have negatively impacted many of our local businesses. Employers from our core industries – including healthcare, finance & insurance, and manufacturing – are hiring as well as some of those that were particularly hard hit by this recession like retail stores and accommodation and food services. The greater capacity for patrons at eating and drinking establishments and sports venues has helped fuel steady increases in the numbers of workers returning to jobs over the past two months.
Hand in hand with this has been the increase in the numbers of people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and feeling more confident in returning to activities they have missed due to worries about exposure to COVID. Our economy is on pace for solid growth as we move into the summer months but vaccination rates and adhering to health protocols will continue to be significant drivers of our region’s progress and ability to sustain our economic recovery. Please stay safe, get vaccinated, and enjoy the spring weather!
We are stronger, together!
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Community Investment Dashboard
Resource tracking of the SWC’s investments in our community’s recovery.
Labor Market Update
Unemployment Claims, Week Ending April 24 | Spokane County
Our area saw the lowest new initial claims for unemployment total since the beginning of the pandemic, with 665 initial claims (-10.5% from prior week). Another 104 (-18.1% from prior week) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims were filed, as well as 118 (-28.5% from prior week) Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims. These new lower levels of initial claims show that the amount of people who are becoming newly unemployed is dropping dramatically from levels seen months ago. It now sits closer to a normal level that would be expected with general churn in the labor market.
Total continued unemployment claims also dropped to 17,505 (-3.1% from prior week) across all three unemployment programs. While regular continued claims continue to steadily decrease, PUA continued claims have remained mostly level for months while PEUC claims have been increasing. This indicates that more than 45% of those who have currently filed an unemployment claim are considered long-term unemployed (unemployment for longer than 27 weeks).
Continued Claims by Type
- Regular Continued Claims: 3,695 (-6.9% from prior week)
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Continued Claims: 5,854 (-2.0% from prior week)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Continued Claims: 7,956 (-1.9% from prior week)
Employment, March 2021 | Spokane County
The unemployment rate was reported at 6.3%, which was the same unemployment rate in March 2020. However, a significant difference is the number of people considered to be in the labor force, with nearly 14,000 fewer workers currently employed or unemployed and looking for work, as compared to the pre-pandemic levels.
The sharp decline in the labor force can be attributed to a number of factors such as retirements and workers exiting the labor force due to safety concerns. Adding to the leading cause for the labor force decline is that female workers, specifically mothers, have experienced the largest drop in labor force participation rate due to the pandemic. This can be attributed to the disproportionate rate at which family and child care burdens are placed on females. As schools move back to in-person instruction, it would be expected that many female workers will return to the labor force. But, the issue of child care affordability and availability also remains a major barrier to full employment.
March 2021 Spokane County Preliminary Employment
- Total Civilian Labor Force: 249,141(263,070 in March 2020)
- Total Employment: 233,462(246,439)
- Total Unemployed: 15,679(16,631)
- Unemployment Rate: 6.3%(6.3%)
Job Postings, April 2021 | Spokane County
New online job postings continued to increase in the month of April with 9,134 postings, an increase of 5.7% from the previous month. The pent-up demand in the economy is emerging from the heightened levels of new online job postings. However, with the current labor force totals significantly declined from pre-pandemic levels, labor shortages are being felt across the economy. This has led a number of businesses to attract new workers by raising starting wages and/or offer signing bonuses.
New Online Job Postings by Industry | April 2021
- Healthcare & Social Assistance: 1,830 (new online job postings)
- Retail Trade: 1,362
- Finance & Insurance: 549
- Accommodation & Food Services: 512
- Manufacturing: 464
Food Insecurity, February 2021 | Spokane County
WorkSource Campus Updates
Expanded Services for Justice-Involved Community Members
Young Adults Own Their Education
Grant Partnership with Second Harvest
If you know a job seeker that just re-entered the workforce or you represent a business that has utilized our recruitment and retention services, please contact Victor Rapez-Betty, our Communications Manager, to begin storyboarding the success video, article, or social media post.