Thursday, December 3, 2020
Dec. 3, 2020

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Clark County jobless picture shows slight improvement

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

Clark County’s unemployment issues are improving slightly, according to last week’s jobless claims. Still, with the state’s new restrictions last week, unemployment in the hospitality sector is likely to rise in the coming days.

Last week, total continued unemployment claims fell from 14,033 to 13,599 in Clark County, which is the first time all three categories – regular and the two extended-benefit categories – have decreased, said Scott Bailey, the state’s regional labor economist for Southwest Washington. Regular continued claims were down 1.8 percent last week; the biggest drop, 55 claims, came from educational services.

“It’s a similar trend as we’ve seen in the past with the exception that when we’re looking at continued claims, the total of all three types dropped slightly,” he said.

Clark County had 4,629 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed last week. The benefits end next month, and there’s no indication they will be extended.

“If you’re on PUA, there’s basically nothing for you come Jan. 1,” Bailey said.

The state’s latest restriction on restaurants, which bans indoor dining and lasts for at least four weeks, are yet to reflect layoffs in the employment data. But the jobless claims could show up as early as next week.

Gyms and theaters are also falling under the new bans.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see claims go up in that industry,” Bailey said about restaurants. “We knew winter was going to be rough for the industry anyway.”

Statewide, a blip in data two weeks ago caused an inflated number of initial claims, so last week’s claims returned to a more accurate number, Bailey said. Initial claims three weeks ago were at 625, which spiked to 1,114 and dropped last week to 714.

Bailey also said that initial claims were likely to rise soon because of season trends.