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News / Business / Clark County Business

Clark County’s drop in jobless claims shows area’s slow, steady improvement

By Will Campbell, Columbian Associate Editor
Published: May 14, 2021, 5:47pm

Clark County’s continued unemployment insurance claims declined for the 11th straight week, showing a slow but steadily improving trend.

Total continued claims declined last week from 13,983 to 13,795. That’s a drop of 188 claims (-1.3 percent). Regular, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) all were lower, according to regional economist Scott Bailey.

“In the most recent week, we had another small decline in total continued unemployment claims,” Bailey said. “There’s been a pretty steady decline in the number of claims going back to the first of the year.”

The category of “total continued claims” is Bailey’s best indicator for a recovering economy because it reflects the longest-term, chronically jobless people in the county, he said. Roughly 15 percent have some earning and may be getting a partial benefit.

“The same week a year ago, (there were) almost 32,000,” Bailey said of total continued claims. “In May 2019, there were 2,300 total continued claims. That’s what normal looks like.”

Initial regular unemployment claims jumped last week in Clark County from 521 to 917 due to a change in the Employment Security Department’s internal data system. Part of the surge comes as Washingtonians who lost jobs early in the pandemic and have received 52 weeks of unemployment benefits are now required under state regulations to re-file, according to the Associated Press.

Of the 2,608 regular claims filed in Clark County, the largest industry sources were construction with 277 claims, manufacturing with 197 claims and health care and social assistance with 183 claims. Of the 6,196 PEUC claims filed, the largest sources by industry were accommodations and food services with 1,008 claims and retail trade with 649 claims, according to Bailey.

For Clark County’s total continued claims, the biggest industries to contribute to the lost jobs were food preparation and services at 1,572 claims and management at 1,830 claims.

The claimants remained disproportionately female, at 53 percent of claimants, and African American, at 3.1 percent of claimants.