Monday, November 23, 2020
Nov. 23, 2020

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Clark County unemployment claims shift toward longer-term benefits

As initial filings decrease, continued PEUC claims go up, doubling over past month

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

Weekly unemployment insurance claims in Clark County continued on the same track last week: New initial claims are decreasing, but there’s a shift to longer-term unemployment for more and more people.

Total continued claims dropped from 15,578 to 15,258 last week — a 2 percent drop.

“That continues a pretty steady drop we’ve been seeing week over week,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for Southwest Washington.

Initial regular claims dropped by 27 percent last week from 1,106 to 805 claims, which reflects the trend for Washington: Statewide, initial regular claims fell by 24.3 percent from the prior week.

The initial regular claims have been fluctuating with a few hundred claims above and below 1,000 claims for more than a month.

“It’s been yo-yoing the last six weeks,” Bailey said. “It’s not exactly a clear trend except for its volatility.”

Jobs in the construction sector have mirrored the changes in initial claims, as opposed to retail trade, which has been relatively flat, he said. Claims from educational services were also down last week.

Claims from the extended benefits program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, has been one indicator that more and more people are getting stuck without a job and can’t find a new one. PEUC continued claims have doubled over the last month, from 1,635 claims in the week ending Sept. 12 to 3,292 in the week ending Oct. 17.

“We’re seeing a steady increase in the number of long-term unemployed as we head into winter,” Bailey said.

Education services continued PEUC claims have tripled in the past month, and “other services,” including hairstylists, have also about tripled, he said. The accommodation-and-food-services industry is faster growing than average.

However, PEUC initial claims have been slowly declining over the past few weeks, Bailey said.