Archive for unemployment

Senate committee passes volunteerism for unemployment benefits bill

By | February 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

A bill that would allow people to perform community service to fulfill a requirement for unemployment benefits passed out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Friday morning.

The Employment Security Department requires people collecting unemployment benefits to perform three job search actions a week — either applying to a job or attending an employment workshop. SB 6392 and HB 2690 would allow the option of performing two hours of community service as one of those three activities.

Two high school students, Marissa Martz and Kristen Hoffmann of Snohomish High School, approached legislators with this proposal, according to Jerry Cornfield of The Herald of Everett.


The bill considered Friday was amended from the students’ original version of the bill, which would have required the community service in addition to the existing unemployment benefit requirements.

They testified to Senate committee on Friday and to the House Labor and Workforce Development on Wednesday.

They argued that the requirement could help the unemployed find work.

“Instead of just a piece of paper given to an employer, like a resume, you actually get to show what you’re doing and what you’re worth,” Hoffmann told the Senate committee Friday.

Several people signed in opposition to the bill, including representatives from Legal Voice, Unemployment Law Project, Washington State Labor Council and the Washington Education Association.

Neil Gorrell, Unemployment Insurance Director, said the original bill would have violated federal law, but making the community service optional instead of mandatory takes care of the issue.

The department was neutral on the version of the bill considered Friday, he said.

Categories: economy, unemployment

Washington’s unemployment rate drops below 8 percent for the first time since 2009

By | December 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

For the first time in nearly four years, Washington’s unemployment rate has dropped below 8 percent, according to figures released Wednesday by the state’s Employment Security Department.

The state’s jobless rate was 7.8 percent in November, down from 8.2 percent in October. The employment department said that’s the largest month-to-month drop the state has seen since 1977.

Gov. Chris Gregoire called the unemployment rate “welcome news.”

“We are clearly heading in the right direction as we slowly emerge from the Great Recession but we cannot rest until every Washingtonian who wants a job has one,” Gregoire said in a statement.

An estimated 270,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work in November.

The industry with the biggest job gains was retail trade, which added 2,500 jobs last month. The construction industry came in second with 1,400 jobs, followed by the leisure and hospitality industry with 1,200 jobs.

State’s unemployment rate drops to 8.2 percent in October

By | November 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in October as the private sector added 9,600 jobs, the state Employment Security Department said today.

The jobless figure is down from 8.5 percent in September.

Retail trade added the most jobs of all the sectors last month, hiring for 3,300 positions.

About 286,000 people in Washington remained unemployed and looking for work in October, including about 125,000 people claiming unemployment benefits.

Categories: unemployment

State’s unemployment rate drops to 8.5 percent

By | October 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Washington’s unemployment rate dipped in September to 8.5 percent. The drop comes as the state added 1,200 jobs, the Employment Security Department announced today.

The jobless figure is down from 8.6 percent in August. Industries with the most job gains in September were leisure and hospitality, as well as government.

Joe Elling, the department’s chief labor economist, said the trend over the last 31 months shows an increasing rate of job growth.

About 296,000 people in Washington were unemployed and looking for work last month, including about 126,000 people who are collecting unemployment benefits.

Categories: unemployment

Military veterans with PTSD face employment challenges, stigma

By | October 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are often stigmatized by employers, making it hard for them to find a job after they’ve left the service, a representative from Sen. Patty Murray’s office told a military committee today.

“Are they going to go postal? That’s what we hear from folks,” said Kristine Reeves, the South Sound regional director for Murray’s office. Reeves said veterans face a “high stigma,” and it’s an issue that Washington state will have to deal with as its military population continues to grow.

More veterans are making Washington their home after being discharged from the service. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the fourth most-requested separation location in the nation, Reeves said. “When people come here, they want to stay here,” she said. “But what does that mean for the state?”

Reeves told the Joint Committee on Veterans’ and Military Affairs that some policy changes are improving the situation, including new guidelines for diagnosing PTSD issued by the Army Surgeon General’s Office after complaints arose at Madigan Army Medical Center.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is also hiring about 1,600 new mental health professionals, Reeves said.

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said those mental health professionals need to be evaluated themselves, citing the shooting spree by a Ft. Hood army psychiatrist that killed 13 people. “We can’t let just anybody work with our service members,” Roach said. “I’m very leery about how you are getting them and how they are getting screened.”

Veterans are “very resilient and want to readjust,” said Tom Schumacher, the PTSD director for the Washington Dept. of Veterans Affairs. But that can be a challenge for soldiers who come home and feel disconnected because they just left their military “family” — other soldiers who they ate, slept and lived with during deployments, Schumacher said.

Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, said the unemployment rate among veterans remains higher than the rate for civilians, and asked that the committee discuss the issue further at a future meeting.

Friday round-up: Vaccinations up, unemployment up, and melty bridge still up

By | September 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

Happy Friday! Here’s a round-up of some interesting tidbits from around the web:

  • Concerned about an outbreak of diseases like whooping cough, the state Legislature passed a law last year making it harder for parents to opt out of immunizations. Parents are now required to get a doctor’s signature if they don’t want to get their kids vaccinated. The law appears to be working — the opt-out rate has fallen by 25 percent and Washington is setting an example for other states, The New York Times reports.
  • Gov. Chris Christie, the popular New Jersey Republican, will be headlining a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna on Oct. 4th.
  • Meanwhile, McKenna’s rival Jay Inslee outlined his healthcare plan at a recent event, saying he fully supports the expansion of Medicaid. You can read the full policy plan here.
  • Washington’s unemployment rate went up in August to 8.6 percent, up from 8.5 percent the previous month. To put that in context, unemployment rates rose in more than half of U.S. states last month. Rates increased in 26 states, fell in 12 states and remained the same in the other 12.
  • @WSDOT sent a Tweet reassuring drivers that the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is still standing after an odd image of it appeared on the latest iPhone operating system. “Although #ios6 may say differently, we can assure you that the Tacoma Narrows Bridges have not melted,” the department tweeted. (more…)
Categories: Healthcare, unemployment

State unemployment rate rises to 8.5 percent in July

By | August 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

Washington state added 5,000 jobs last month — but that wasn’t enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising. The state jobless rate rose to 8.5 percent in July, up from 8.3 percent in June, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The department’s chief labor economist Joe Elling said the numbers are still preliminary, and pointed to the year-over growth as a positive sign. “When you compare where we are now to the same period a year ago, it’s apparent that the labor market is improving,” he said. Last July, the unemployment rate was 9.3 percent.

The “other industries” sector gained the most number of jobs last month, adding 2,900 jobs. The category includes service-related businesses such as repair shops and dry cleaning.

The biggest job losses were in the professional and business services, which shrank by 4,600 jobs, followed by government, which was down 1,300 jobs.

Categories: unemployment

State’s unemployment rate up from previous month, but people optimistic

By | June 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in May, up from 8.2 percent in April, the state Employment Security Department said today.

But there’s good news too: The state added nearly 12,000 jobs — and more people are optimistic about finding work.

Anneliese Vance-Sherman, an economist for the department, said more unemployed people are jumping back into the job market, which could be the reason for the small spike in unemployment rate. The unemployment rate takes into account the number of unemployed people looking for work in the past four weeks.

“In this case, the higher unemployment rate could be a sign that people are feeling more optimistic about their chances of finding a job,” said Vance-Sherman.

Categories: economy, unemployment

Is the state recovering from the recession?

By | April 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent in March, the same rate as the previous month. But employers added 3,300 jobs  — marking positive job growth for 18 out of the last 19 months.

March’s unemployment rate matches February’s revised rate of 8.3 percent, according to the Employment Security Department. Most of the jobs added in March were in the government sector, specifically K-12 schools and higher education.

The state’s job picture is rapidly improving, Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said at a meeting Wednesday morning. Trause said the state has lost 200,000 jobs from “peak to trough” of the recession, starting in March 2008.

Since then, Washington has added back 91,000 jobs.

“We appear to be recovering at an accelerating pace from the recession,” Trause said at the Government Management Accountability and Performance meeting (video).

Kitsap Co. has suffered the biggest number of job losses from the recession, Trause said. The southwest and northeast corners of the state have also been hit hard with some of the highest unemployment figures in Washington, he said.


Categories: unemployment

State losing 26 weeks of long-term unemployment benefits

By | April 3, 2012 | 0 Comments

More people are finding work and the state’s unemployment rate is slowly dropping, but those who remain unemployed will be facing a reduction of benefits — losing about six months in unemployment checks starting April 21st.

That’s because the state’s average unemployment rate over the last three months — which dropped to 8.2 percent in February — triggered a couple of formulas that the federal government uses to pay out long-term benefits.

People who lose their jobs can claim regular unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, paid for by the state. After that, a federal program that provides “emergency benefits” for 53 weeks kicks in.

A second federal program providing “extended benefits” continues paying out unemployment checks for another 20 weeks after a worker’s emergency benefits run out.

Because of the state’s reduced average unemployment rate, it will lose the extended benefits program altogether, and emergency benefits will be reduced by six weeks – shrinking the amount of long-term unemployment benefits a person can claim by 26 weeks.

Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause said in a statement that while the state’s unemployment rate has improved, it is still high. “Losing up to six months of benefits will make the unemployment situation a lot more urgent for thousands of families,” he said.

Unemployed workers can go to for more info and employment assistance.

Categories: unemployment

Unemployment rate drops to 8.2 percent

By | March 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

February’s labor statistics came out today and things improving: The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in February, down from 8.4 percent in January.  It’s the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009, when it was 7.7 percent.

The state added about 4,200 jobs last month. The biggest uptick was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 2,500 jobs. That was followed by the construction, retail and transportation sectors.

Still, about 288,000 people were unemployed and looking for work in February. And about 197,000 claimed unemployment benefits, according to the Employment Security Department.

Categories: unemployment

Unemployment is down to 8.3 percent across the state

By | February 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

January’s labor statistics came out today and the news is good: The unemployment rate has dropped to 8.3 percent, down from 8.6 percent in December. That represents a gain of 13,200 jobs.

The bad news: About 291,400 people in the state are receiving unemployment benefits. And as of the end of last week, 74,616 people have run out of unemployment benefits. 

Gov. Chris Gregoire sent out a statement after the announcement, saying the economy is showing “real and consistent signs of recovery.” She also said that as the economy improves and employers look to hire, she hopes they consider out-of-work Washingtonians for job openings.

“From the low point of the recession the state has regained about 98,000 jobs. These numbers are coupled with our decreasing unemployment rate, down significantly from a high of 10.2 percent in early 2010. That is good news and indicates we are in recovery, but we’ve still got to get thousands of Washingtonians back to work,” she said.

Categories: unemployment

Week 1 of Session: Let’s Review

By | January 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

The 2012 Legislative session kicked off on Monday, and we covered lots of ground here on the blog and on Legislative Review, our 10-minute wrap-up of the day’s events that airs nightly at 6:30 p.m. on TVW. Here’s a quick look back at what happened this week.

Monday: Opening ceremonies got underway with speeches from Reps. Frank Chopp and Richard DeBolt. TVW aired a two-hour opening day special of “The Impact” with interviews from the Governor and dozens of lawmakers, who touched on everything from the budget to gay marriage and medical marijuana.

Watch Monday’s Legislative Review here.

Tuesday:  Gov. Chris Gregoire gave her final state of the state address, calling for a $3.6 billion transportation package that would include a $1.50 fee per barrel on oil produced in Washington. Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, delivered the Republican response. That was followed by a news conference where several Republicans said they were concerned that the Governor’s proposed oil fee would cause prices to rise at the gas pump.

Watch Tuesday’s Legislative Review here.

Wednesday: After three years of delivering gloomy economic forecasts, the state’s chief economist Arun Raha announced he was resigning to take a new job in Cleveland — but not without cracking a few of his signature “Arun-ism” jokes first. We kept an eye on two environmental bills — one would ban plastic grocery bags in Washington state, and the other would ban petroleum-based plastic bottles. And, the Senate took a look at a proposal that would consolidate the healthcare benefits of K-12 public school employees under one insurance plan.

Watch Wednesday’s Legislative Review here.

Thursday: A bipartisan group of lawmakers held a press conference to announce their plans for education reform, including a bill that would authorize charter schools in Washington state. Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, held a press conference to promote his version of a bill that would ban plastic bags. The employment department and chief economist Arun Raha gave an update on how the state’s economy is doing.

Watch Thursday’s Leglative Review here.

Friday: The Sandusky scandal prompted the Senate to hear a bill that would hold certain higher education employees responsible for reporting suspected child abuse. Also, the Senate honored Sen. Scott White, who died in October of a heart attack. Friday’s edition of Legislative Review airs at 6:30 p.m. on TVW.

Rep. Larry Haler: “We have reached the breaking point”

By | January 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

In just a few minutes TVW will be on air with legislators with discussions spanning the topics of the budget, jobs, and higher education.

So far, we’ve spoken with Senators Ed Murray and Mark Schoesler about the budget and Senator Derek Kilmer about job creation.

In our discussion about higher education with Representative Larry Haler, he said “we have reached the breaking point,” regarding cuts to higher education. He said he is in talks with higher education officials and has called for a “zero percent increase” in tuition, or as close to that as is feasible, he added.

All of the interviews today will be on air at 7 p.m. as well.

State jobless rate is down

By | November 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

On the heels of this morning’s not-awful revenue forecast, the state also heard the latest jobs report. The good news: The state added 4,600 jobs in October and the unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been since March 2009.

The bad news: The rate is 9 percent. And 314,698 people are still unemployed and looking for work in the state. Of those, about 176,000 were receiving unemployment benefits and nearly 65,000 unemployed workers have gone without a job for so long that they’ve simply run out of benefits.

According to the Employment Security Department, the industries with the biggest job gains were government, wholesale trade, education and health services, and manufacturing, which includes aerospace. But jobs were lost in professional and business services, transportation, warehousing and utilities, retail trade.

To view the full report, go here.

Categories: economy, unemployment
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Think unemployed workers stay on benefits because they don’t want to work? ESD says think again

By | July 28, 2011 | 0 Comments

The Employment Security Department released survey results today that they hope debunks the myth that unemployes workers don’t look for jobs until their benefits are about to run out. ESD sent the survey out to anyone who had run out of unemployment benefits since Nov. 2009, and more than 5,000 people responded. The result: Three of four survey respondents who ran out of benefits are still out of work.

“The survey contradicts the perception that unemployed workers wait until their benefits run out, then quickly find work,” said ESD Commissioner Paul Trause. He added that there simply aren’t enough jobs.

The survey was sent to more than 30,000 “exhaustees” — those unemployed workers who have exhausted their benefits, which can last up to 99 weeks. Of those who responded and had found jobs, 80 percent were making less than they had before being laid off. The average pay cut was 29 percent. Survey respondents also said they feel age is a barrier to employment.

You can read the full report here.