Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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Clark County sees new jobless claims tick up

But continuing claims dip, showing slow improvement

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

The local job market is getting better at a slower pace.

Initial regular unemployment insurance claims filed in Clark County increased from 867 to 978 last week, up 13 percent from the week before.

It’s a relatively small increase that was mostly offset by fewer continued unemployment claims, which dropped from 17,064 to 17,030 last week.

“The week as a whole continues a theme of good news and bad news. The good news was less good (than) in previous weeks,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for Southwest Washington.

Most sectors reported an increase in initial unemployment claims: Manufacturing went from 33 to 61 claims; business services went from 36 to 53 claims; education had fewer initial claims, dropping from 191 to 171.

“They are still the No. 1 in highest initial unemployment in any industry,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he expects more initial claims from education services, considering recent furlough announcements from Battle Ground Public Schools and Vancouver Public Schools.

While continued unemployment claims in total dropped by about 0.2 percent in the county, regular continued claims dropped from 10,067 to 9,935, and pandemic unemployment assistance claims dropped from 5,604 to 5,569.

However, extended PEUC claims, the federal program for people who have exhausted six months’ worth of unemployment, increased from 1,393 to 1,526.

“We’re having more longer-term unemployment,” Bailey said. “We’re kind of seeing things getting better, but not that much better. We’ve been pretty flat this last week.”

Most sectors had a decrease in continued claims from the previous week. The exception was education services, up from 692 to 784.

The largest increase in PEUC claims was in accommodations and food services, which rose from 220 to 241.

Washington saw a 10.1 percent increase in initial claims last week. It also totaled 531,425 claims for all unemployment benefit categories, down 6.5 percent from the prior week, according to a news release from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Within two weeks, the Washington State Employment Security Department will be sending out $300 Lost Wages Assistance payments, which is a follow-up to $600 payments that ended last month. Bailey said it would be a lump sum, and applicants are eligible for up to five weeks of payments. The payments will be retroactive to August and the first week of September.

“It will help a little bit,” he said.