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Employment Security Department to lay off about 220 workers

About 9 percent of the 2,400 workers with Washington’s Employment Security Department will lose their jobs in January, the agency said Friday.

The approximately 220 layoffs will include more than 60 assigned to Eastern Washington. That group includes 13 workers at WorkSource Spokane, and two more at the ESD district tax office.

State ESD employees with the Eastern Washington WorkSource centers help out-of-work area residents get training in order to find new jobs. Starting in January, some of them will be in the same boat.

The Spokane WorkSource office currently has about 80 workers; Spokane’s ESD district tax office has a staff of 11. The tax office deals with businesses that pay unemployment insurance taxes. It’s located in the WorkSource Spokane office at 901 E. Second Ave.

ESD spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison said the layoffs will be primarily based on seniority. “But the issues of skills and abilities needed in (different offices) will also be a consideration,” she said.

Workers can bump others in different offices, depending on a number of factors; the exact impact on ESD positions will take some time to sort through, she said, adding, “The options and scenarios are very complicated.”

Managers delivered layoff notices on Friday, she said.

Although the positions are considered state jobs, federal money pays about 85 percent of the salaries for ESD workers. That money is distributed to the state, which directs it to the ESD.

The remainder of the ESD budget comes from state programs, including the WorkFirst welfare-to-work program and funds generated by late tax payments and other sources.

While those job cuts stem from federal budget woes, Hutchison said this round of layoffs may not be the last, adding the next round of ESD cuts could occur as soon as next year.