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Sept. 19, 2021

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Unemployment claims in Clark County keep falling

Decline is a sign of recovery, regional economist says

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:

Continued unemployment claims in Clark County saw another drop, according to the latest weekly data released by the Employment Security Department.

Overall continued claims fell from 11,455 in the week ending July 17 to 11,361 in the week ending July 24, according to regional economist Anneliese Vance Sherman.

Trends were mixed within the subcategories that make up the overall number. Regular continued claims fell by 113 to 2,729, while Pandemic Unemployment Assistance rose by seven to 4,022 and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation ticked up 13 to 4,610. Pandemic Emergency Benefits claims dropped from one to zero.

The overall drop in continued claims was smaller than the prior week’s decline of 7.9 percent — a change that regional economist Scott Bailey described as “the biggest weekly improvement for almost a year.”

The declines in continued claims signal a recovering economy, Bailey said last week, but the overall number of claims is still far above normal. For comparison, there were about 2,500 continued claims in July 2019, he said.

Initial claims declined 17.1 percent from the prior week to land at 194, a steep enough decline to more than cancel out the slight uptick that had been seen in the week ending July 17.

Bailey previously referred to the prior week’s increase as “just noise.” Initial claims have almost returned to their regular pre-pandemic range, he said, so the small weekly fluctuations are normal.

In his June labor market report, Bailey reported that Clark County saw a net gain of 1,400 jobs, which in seasonally adjusted terms would be a gain of about 700 jobs, led by growth in the construction and hospitality industries.

Clark County has seen a net increase in jobs in almost every month of the year so far. The county’s June unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, compared with 5.3 percent for Washington state overall.

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