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Continued unemployment claims drop in Clark County

Initial unemployment insurance claims rose by 5 percent in Clark County last week from 1,293 to 1,362 claims, and much of the small increase is tied to the education sector.

However, the number of continued claims dropped by 6.3 percent, or 880 fewer claims, compared with the week before.

“The continued claims is a good number coming down,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for Southwest Washington. “The initial claims were a small number in the grand scheme of things.”

Although initial claims rose, the increase was still within the range Clark County has seen for the past two months.

The education sector reported 157 of last week’s 1,362 claims. The week before, the sector had 60 claims, and no other industries changed as much last week.

“It’s possibly because school districts that are going virtual would have been cutting nonclassroom teachers or staff,” Bailey said.

He said 59 of the claims from the education sector came from educational assistance — someone who’s in the classroom helping the teacher or helping students in groups or one-on-one. Bus drivers accounted for 26 claims, and a few were from teachers and guidance counselors, he said.

Initial Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims were down to 268 in Clark County last week. Two weeks before, they were at 420, and the week before last they were at 308.

“They’re trending down quite a bit in the last few weeks,” Bailey said.

It indicates that most of the initial claims were likely from people losing their jobs for the first time, Bailey said.

But continued claims dropping is the bigger indicator of the local economy, Bailey said. Two industries had larger drops in those claims last week: manufacturing, and accommodations and food services.

The state as a whole had a 1.7 percent drop in initial unemployment insurance claims last week compared to the week before. Continued claims in the state rose by 0.83 percent last week.

“We continue to see employment uncertainty reflected in the unemployment numbers as initial regular claims fluctuate week to week,” Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said. “We also experienced a notable change this week, as the additional $600 in federal benefits expired on July 25. Unless Congress acts soon to extend or alter it, the loss of this additional benefit will create hardship for many individuals and families. While ESD administers this additional benefit, we do not have a say in whether it is extended.”

Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 1.3 million people in Washington have filed for unemployment benefits, according to an Employment Security Department news release. The agency has paid out more than $8.7 billion in benefits, and 966,464 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid.


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