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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Unemployment claims in Clark County steadily declining

‘The last time it was this low was before the pandemic’

By , Columbian Associate Editor

Unemployment insurance claims in Clark County are the fewest since the pandemic began, and they continue a steady decline.

In the most recent week, ending Aug. 7, total continued claims dropped from 11,422 to 11,334. Regular claims, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) all declined.

“The last time it was this low was before the pandemic,” said Scott Bailey, the state’s regional employment economist for Southwest Washington. “We hit a low point in early November, and then it popped up again, but it’s been steadily coming back down.”

The top occupation for all continued unemployment claims was restaurant servers at 273 claims last week. Sales managers filed 263 claims, general managers filed 246 claims, cashiers filed 243 claims, and retail salespeople filed 233 claims.

Managers were the top occupational group to file claims, at 1,590, followed by office/administrative workers at 1,166 claims, sales occupations at 1,138 and food services (now in fourth) at 1,135.

Claims are likely to drop within a few weeks because the PUA and PEUC programs are set to end in the second week of September.

“People won’t necessarily go back to work right away after that,” Bailey said. “Most folks will go back to some kind of normalcy eventually. The extent that people have been able to save and with COVID cases coming back — with the variant that’s three or four times contagious as the original. Still, a lot of people are going to avoid what they see as high-exposure occupations.”

More Clark County workers in health care and social assistance jobs filed claims (828) than in accommodations and food services (827), according to Bailey. Retail had 729 claimants.

Regular claims in accommodations and food services, which topped 1,200 at the beginning of the year, have fallen to 222, Bailey wrote in an email to The Columbian.

“Extended (PEUC) claims in the industry began the year at just under 600, rose to over 1,200, before falling to 605 in the most recent week,” he wrote. “There were a total of 360 claimants who had worked in full-service restaurants and 154 who had worked in limited-service restaurants.”

African Americans were overrepresented among claimants, compared with the composition of the 2019 workforce.