Tidbits and beignets: Unemployment benefits vary (a lot!) across the nation

By Chad Pearson, Employment Security Department Communications Office

Beignets and jazz are traditional in Louisiana culture, but if you want to overdose on either of them and you’re receiving unemployment benefits, you’d be better off buying them in Boston than in New Orleans. That’s because Massachusetts provides up to four times the amount of weekly benefits than Louisiana.

dataThose who like to nerd out with lots of statistics and information might enjoy the newest comparison report of unemployment agencies released by the U.S. Department of Labor this week. In all, the report compares unemployment data from 53 agencies from all the states, Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. I was surprised at how differently each agency handles unemployment benefits.

  • Tidbit 1: If you are going to be unemployed, hope that you worked in the northeast part of the U.S.

    Massachusetts weekly benefits are almost five times larger than Louisiana’s: $1,047 vs. $284, and the two states represent the highest and lowest benefits in the country. In Washington, the weekly benefit maximum in 2014 was $637. (Currently it’s $664.)

  • Tidbit 2: Short-time compensation programs, such as Washington’s Shared Work Program, can be used only sparingly in some states.

    Wisconsin allows employers to use the program only for six months in any five-year period. This makes Wisconsin the most difficult state in which to use program if an employer has an extended layoff. Some states, including Washington, have no restrictions on how often it is used.

  • Tidbit 3: Federal unemployment benefits were extended for the longest time ever during the Great Recession.
    Unemployment compensation was 100 percent federally financed for a record 67 months ending in January 2014 — almost twice as long as the previous record of 36 months ending in 1978.

    Plus, it surprised me that since the inception of the Special Federal Extension program in 1958, now named Emergency Unemployment Compensation, funds have been available more than a third of the years between 1958 and 2015.

Since all the agencies that administer unemployment insurance programs are independent and subject to changes by local lawmakers, they vary hugely across America. Read the report to see how Washington is helping the unemployed and what it’s like to be out of work in the other parts of the nation.

chad-pearsonAuthor Chad Pearson is the Shared Work marketing manager in the Communications Office.

YouthWorks connects young people to jobs

By Melissa Connaughton

Betzy Villa interns at the Dispute Resolution Center of Yakima and Kittitas Counties. The 90-hour internship is the culmination of her participation in YouthWorks — a partnership between Employment Security and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Betzy Villa interns at the Dispute Resolution Center of Yakima and Kittitas Counties. The 90-hour internship is the culmination of her participation in YouthWorks — a partnership between Employment Security and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

High school senior Betzy Villa has been entrusted with a huge responsibility: identifying local attorneys who may be interested in working on a special project for the Dispute Resolution Center of Yakima and Kittitas Counties.

Working on a 90-hour internship organized by Yakima’s YouthWorks summer jobs program, Villa is getting a glimpse at what it’s really like to work in an attorney’s office. This internship at the Dispute Resolution Center is far more than just answering the phone; it’s an introduction to a career, providing mentoring, career exploration and work experience for youth interested in a legal career.

“I’ve gotten to observe the actual dispute resolution process and see how mediators help both sides come to an agreement about what works best for both parties,” Villa says. She also has acquired some hard skills, such as creating Excel spreadsheets and organized records.

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2015 Economic Symposium – Washington’s workforce needs: Economist and employer perspectives in today’s labor market


The eonomic symposium logoIn today’s labor market, data are more important than ever. Join the Labor Market & Performance Analysis Division of the Washington State Employment Security Department at the 2015 Olympia Economic Symposium on Oct. 29 to learn about the state of Washington’s labor market, occupational projections and more.

On the agenda:

  • A featured panel of employers will share perspectives on workforce needs.
  • State economists will reveal the gap in comparing real-time employer demand, occupational projections and the labor supply.
  • We’ll give a sneak peak of our new and improved website.


The event starts at 1 p.m. on the first floor auditorium of the Department of Social and Health Services OB2 Building on the capitol campus.

Register online by Oct. 28 to reserve your seat. Registration is free, but seating is limited. For more information, call 360-407-4541.

Honoring 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Felicia Wright, Employment Security Human Resources

Employment Security is an equal opportunity employer and provider of employment services. It also is home to the Governor’s Committee for Disability Issues and Employment.

I sat in a class recently and noticed my friend and colleague (let’s call her Jean) sitting on the other side of the room, squinting at slides our instructor was showing. Jean has a vision disability. Seeing her struggle to read, I got up, walked to the light switch and turned up the lights on her side of the room.

During our break, Jean was clearly upset. Then, she really let me have it. She does not want to be treated differently because she has low-vision disability, she said. How dare I treat her as if she is helpless! She can turn up the lights herself, she said.

This was an embarrassing but enlightening moment for me. I learned never to make assumptions about people or their disabilities. I don’t assume what someone wants, what he or she feels, or what is best for him or her.

Now, if I have a question about how to help, what language or terminology to use, or what assistance to offer, I ask. The person you want to help should be your first and best resource. People with disabilities have different preferences. Just because one person with a disability prefers something one way doesn’t mean that another person with a disability prefers it the same way.
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WorkSource Spokane adapts after the Great Recession

WorkSource Spokane staffing levels and office space are both stable after recent downsizing of both, said Journal of Business reporter Linn Parish in a July 16 story.

As the unemployment rate in Spokane County — currently at 6.3 percent — continues its decline after the Great Recession, the mix of customers also has changed in the last five years, Parish reported after an interview with WorkSource Spokane Administrator Michelle Sanchez.

“Sanchez says that in 2010, WorkSource Spokane assisted 27,000 job seekers and 6,000 potential employers. So far this year, the agency has helped about 5,000 people looking for work and 14,500 employers,” wrote Parish.

Read the entire story in the Spokane Journal of Business.