New agency website launches

By Ann Hartman, Communications Office

Employment Security launched a redesigned, rewritten and refreshed agency website on June 30, giving job seekers, employers and unemployment claimants better access to – and a better understanding of – the resources they need.

After more than a year in development, the new esd.wa.gov improves on the old site in many ways, said Scott Peterson, multi-media and Web manager in the Communications Office. First, the website uses what’s called a responsive design, meaning it looks good and works well on personal computers as well as tablets, smart phones and other mobile equipment.

“Many of our customers are using mobile devices, so it’s really exciting that our site will function well for them,” said Peterson.

Second, the new website uses a persona-based layout, designed from the perspective of sample users (personas). The home page of the old site offered only two main categories: unemployment and employers, Peterson explained. Those choices didn’t adequately reflect the agency’s varied customers – job seekers, unemployment claimants, tax payers and business owners – who often fit into more than one of those categories at a time.

Home page of the new esd.wa.gov

The new agency website home page calls out categories designed for Employment Security’s main user groups. The old site had only two categories: unemployment and employers. The new home page also highlights easy-to-find links to commonly used applications.

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Learning center prepares Omak kids for work

By Monica Garza-Acevedo, training counselor at WorkSource Okanogan County

Tucked in a classroom next to the front lobby of WorkSource Okanogan County, high-school-aged students pursue their education.  Students arrive at the Omak Learning Center every day, working toward their state diploma or GED.

For the past 15 years, a partnership with the WorkForce Investment Act youth program and the Okanogan School District has provided youths who have dropped out or need a different atmosphere from the regular high school environment a chance to further their educational goals and achieve success.

Learning Center employees Mary Hinger, Linda Jane, Monica Garza-Acevedo and Heather Sprinkle

Employees at WorkSource Okanogan who keep the Learning Center growing and thriving are, standing left to right, Mary Hinger and Linda Jane. Sitting left to right are Monica Garza-Acevedo and Heather Sprinkle.

The basic skills program at the Omak Learning Center is a school-to-work alternative for students 16 to 21 years old, based on a fundamental principal of learning: Students learn at their own pace. The primary focus is to provide the necessary personal and academic skills and support that enables students to become confident, productive and employable.

This graduation season, eight Learning Center students will receive their high school diplomas, two will earn their GEDs and one more finishes GED testing this June.

Linda Jane, an Employment Security employee and certified instructor, works attentively with each student to complete his or her personal academic goals. She assists students through a computer program that works on skill development in reading, writing, language arts, math, science, keyboarding and social studies. Learning is competency-based and goal-oriented, and includes individual and group instruction.

“The biggest challenge is getting students to believe in themselves,” said Linda. “I love seeing them accomplish their goals, be it GED or their diploma, and move into higher education or work.”

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Labor area summary of Grant County

By Donald Meseck, Employment Security’s labor economist for Yakima, Kittitas, Grant, Douglas, Chelan, Adams and Okanogan counties

Each month, the Employment Security Department releases statewide and county employment and unemployment data for the previous month.

This report provides an update on the Grant County economy incorporating current, not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm employment and civilian labor force data. Analysis focuses on year-over-year (between the Marches of 2014 and 2015) and average annual (between 2013 and 2014) labor market changes.

Unemployment rates
Preliminary labor force data show that Washington state’s average annual not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased eight-tenths of a percentage point between 2013 and 2014, from 7.0 percent to 6.2 percent. Between the Marches of 2014 and 2015 the rate declined one and one-tenths points, from 6.8 to 5.7 percent.

In Grant County, the average annual unemployment rate decreased one and one-tenths percentage points between 2013 and 2014, from 8.8 to 7.7 percent. The rate decreased one and one-tenths points this March to 8.1 percent from the 9.2 percent reading in March 2014 (see Figure 1) as the number of unemployed residents dropped and the labor force expanded (see Figure 3).

Grant County unemployment rate chart

Figure 1. The Grant County unemployment rate decrased from 9.2 percent in March 2014 to 8.1 percent in March 2015.

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Chelan and Douglas counties: labor area summary

By Don Meseck, Employment Security’s labor economist for Yakima, Kittitas, Grant, Adams, Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties

This analysis of Chelan and Douglas counties incorporates not seasonally adjusted, nonfarm employment and civilian labor force data. Analysis focuses on year-over-year (between March 2014 and March 2015) and average annual (between 2013 and 2014) changes in the labor market.

Unemployment rates
Preliminary labor force data show that Washington state’s average annual not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased eight-tenths of a percentage point between 2013 and 2014, from 7.0 percent to 6.2 percent. Between the Marches of 2014 and 2015 the rate declined one and one-tenths points, from 6.8 to 5.7 percent.

In the two counties, the annual average unemployment rate fell from 7.2 to 6.6 percent between 2013 and 2014, a six-tenths percentage point drop. The rate decreased one and two-tenths percentage points this March to 6.8 percent from 8.0 percent reading in March 2014 (see Figure 1) as the number of unemployed residents contracted and the labor force expanded (see Figure 3).

 

Chelan and Douglas county unemployment rates, not seasonally adjusted

Figure 1. The unemployment rate in Chelan and Douglas counties decreased one and two-tenths percentage points between March 2014 and March 2015.

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Employment Security offers help for employers

By Chad Pearson, Employment Security’s Shared Work marketing manager

The Employment Security Department isn’t just “the unemployment office.” A full suite of business programs is available to help employers succeed.

For instance, consider the Shared Work Program. The business climate is improving and unemployment is down in Washington. Yet, participation in the program continues to be strong because more employers are learning about it. This short video shows how the program helps both businesses and workers.

WorkSource offices around the state can help employers recruit and interview prospective employees. Soon, upgrades to the go2WorkSource.com website will bring a dynamic job-match system to help connect employees and employers.

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