Gov. Inslee announces grant award to return long-term unemployed to work

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More than 1,300 long-term unemployed workers in Washington will be placed in jobs over the next year through grants awarded today by Gov. Jay Inslee and the Employment Security Department.

Washington was the first state to request and be authorized to redirect $4 million in federal mass-layoff funds to efforts to reduce long-term unemployment. All 12 workforce development councils in Washington competed for the grants and each will receive a portion of the money. (See details below.)

“Thousands of workers with good work histories have been left behind in our economic recovery,” Inslee said. “It’s exciting to advance our partnership with our local workforce development councils to start turning that around.”

The workforce development councils will deliver services to the long-term unemployed through local WorkSource facilities. Services will be customized to meet the needs of local economies throughout the state.

The WorkSource system is a statewide partnership of state, local and nonprofit agencies that deliver a wide array of employment and training services for job seekers and employers. The work is coordinated at the local level by workforce development councils, whose boards include local leaders from business and labor.

Examples of services offered include intensive job-readiness workshops and counseling, job clubs for peer-to-peer networking, business internships and on-the-job training opportunities. Local businesses will be recruited to provide practice interviews, résumé advice and business-to-business outreach to change perceptions about the skills of the long-term unemployed and help them secure jobs.

In each community, workforce development councils will partner with local employment and training providers to implement the initiative, recruit and organize employers and coordinate worker participation.

According to Employment Security records, most of the current long-term unemployed in Washington held jobs for a year or more immediately before the recession. About one-third have college degrees, and another 16 percent have at least some college-level education. Many were laid off from highly skilled jobs, including those in finance, management, health care and the sciences.

“Employers need to get past the idea that these are tainted workers,” said Employment Security Commissioner Dale Peinecke. “We’re talking about thousands of qualified people with stable work histories and high-level skills. Employers may miss out if they automatically screen out anyone who was laid off during the recession.”

“Washington state is home to a talented, educated and skilled workforce, but too often, workers who have been unemployed for long periods of time struggle to find work, even though they have great experience and strong work histories,” said Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. “These councils prove that smart investments can make a difference for workers, businesses, and the economy.”

Last year, the WorkSource system delivered employment and training assistance to more than 240,000 job seekers and served nearly 5,600 Washington employers. Each year, about 140,000 WorkSource customers find jobs.

Studies have shown that people who use WorkSource job-search services tend to find work faster and earn more money than those who don’t. WorkSource locations can be found on

Fund allocations for each workforce development council

REPORTERS: To learn more about how the initiative works in your area, please contact the local coordinators listed below.

Olympic Workforce Development Council (Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties) ~ $193,000.
Media contact: Doug Washburn, director, 360-337-4526

Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council (Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties) ~ $334,000.
Media contact: Cheryl Fambles, chief executive officer, 360-482-1701

Northwest Workforce Council (Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties) ~ $248,000.
Media contact: Gay Dubigk, director, 360-676-3206

Snohomish County Workforce Development Council ~ $419,000.
Media contact: Sue Ambler, chief executive officer, 425-921-3423

Workforce Development Council of Seattle/King County ~ $986,000.
Media contact: Marlena Sessions, chief executive officer, 206-448-0474

Tacoma-Pierce County Workforce Development Council ~ $501,000.
Media contact: Linda Nguyen, chief executive officer, 253-472-8094

Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council (Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties) ~ $325,000.
Media contact: Jeanne Bennett, executive director, 360-567-1070

North-Central Washington Workforce Development Council (Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties) ~ $166,000.
Media contact: Dave Petersen, director, 509-663-3091, ext. 228

South-Central Washington Workforce Development Council (Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania and Yakima counties) ~ $228,000.
Media contact: Patrick Baldoz, director, 509-574-1950

Eastern Washington Partnership Workforce Development Council (Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla counties) ~ $97,000.
Media contact: Tom O’Brien, director, 509-685-6129

Benton-Franklin Workforce Development Council (Benton and Franklin counties) ~ $221,000.
Media contact: Cos Edwards, executive director, 509-734-5984

Spokane-Area Workforce Development Council ~ $282,000.
Media contact: Mark Mattke, chief executive officer, 509-533-8470

Media Contacts

Office of the Governor
David Postman