In the next couple of months, many employment office workers in the northwest will join the unemployed.
State labor agencies are having to make cutbacks in staffing. It’s due to a combination of the economy getting better and federal budget cuts known as the “sequester” setting in.
Staffing at the local employment office usually moves in the exact opposite direction as the rest of the economy. When times are tough, unemployment rolls are booming.
But the sequester is accelerating the other end of that cycle. In Washington state, 400 people in the Employment Security Department will lose their jobs. Another 62 at Idaho’s Department of Labor have received notice and 27 will face reduced hours.
One of the Idaho workers about to be unemployed is James Drennen in the Post Falls office. His last day is June 21. “You’re keeping yourself busy, you’re helping people, but in the back of your mind, you know, ‘Do you have a job yet? Do you have a job yet?’”, says Drennen.
He says on one hand, he knows how to write a good resume – but he also knows how tough the job market still is.
“I had an interview and I was so nervous,” says Drennen. “In the back of my mind was: For the last year and five months, you’ve been telling people how to do this, now you have to step up to the plate.”
Drennen says at least he knows how to apply for unemployment benefits if it comes to that. People on extended unemployment across the Northwest have already been feeling the effects of federal budget cuts.
KUOW’s Sara Lerner contributed to this story.