Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Oct. 21, 2020

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Clark County’s initial unemployment claims up 31 percent

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

Clark County’s initial regular unemployment insurance claims filed last week increased from 891 to 1,168, up 31 percent from the week before. Continued claims fell, though by less than 1 percent.

The initial increases came from all industries, but workers in construction and educational services filed the most. Construction claims increased from 69 to 177, and educational services were up from 138 to 195 claims.

“Construction might just be a blip,” said Scott Bailey, Southwest Washington regional economist. “Those might not even go to continued claims. It might be a job ended, and historically, construction workers have gotten that claim filed just in case.”

However, total continued insurance claims went down a little bit in Clark County last week, which is the main marker for the local economy for Bailey.

“It’s less than 1 percent,” he said, “but that’s good news.”

Regular continued claims were down more than 1 percent, but the extended-benefit Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PUEC) programs were up a little bit, Bailey said.

All industries experienced a decline in continued claims, except educational services, which had an increase last week from 874 to 939 claims. Conversely, food services had the largest decline, from 1,505 to 1,428.

“Three months ago, continued claims were dropping by over 1,000 a week, then it settled into roughly 500 a week,” Bailey said. “Then there was a big drop of 1,500 six weeks ago. So this last week of 141 (fewer claims) is the second smallest decline we’ve had. The improvement has decelerated.”

North of Clark County, things are looking worse, Bailey said. Cowlitz County had total continued claims increase for two weeks in a row, from 4,169 to 4,338 over those two weeks.

“It’s not declining,” he said. “It’s double concerning that it is not declining and it’s going up.”

In the state as a whole, initial claims increased last week by 6.4 percent, and continued claims fell by 4.6 percent.

“The low-hanging fruit has been picked of the initial recovery, and we’ll settle into a slow recovery pattern at this point,” Bailey said.