Initial state claims for unemployment benefits remain at historical highs

Third week in a row of record numbers

Initial claims for unemployment benefits remained at historical highs for the week of March 29-April 4, with over 170,063 initial claims filed during the week, according to the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

Although this was a 6.5 percent decrease over the previous week, the number of initial claims filed was a 2,627 percent increase year over year and seven times more than the peak week during the 2008/2009 recession which saw 26,075 weekly initial claims, according to a news release Thursday from the ESD.

During the week of March 29-April 4 ESD paid out $79.4 million to 182,315 individuals across Washington state. In total since the week ending March 16, the first big week of claims related to COVID-19 job losses, ESD has paid out nearly $150 million in benefits to Washingtonians.

“It remains critical that people stay home and stay healthy, that is paramount,” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “The increased utilization of unemployment insurance across the state demonstrates that more and more people are abiding by this order. Although the number of initial claims is down slightly from last week, we need to be cautious that this does not yet depict a trend.

“As our ESD team works round the clock to make it easier for Washingtonians to apply for unemployment benefits in addition to implementing the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program which will increase the number of workers who are eligible for unemployment benefits, we expect to see a new surge of claims in the coming weeks.”

Weekly data breakdown

By industry

Industry sectors experiencing the highest number of initial claims during March 29 – April 4 were:

* Construction: 24,394 initial claims, down 3,627 initial claims from the previous week

* Retail trade: 20,508 initial claims, down 1,494 initial claims from the previous week

* Health care and social assistance: 19,462 initial claims, down 803 initial claims from previous week

* Accommodation and food services: 18,017 initial claims, down 5,343 initial claims from previous week

* Manufacturing: 12,973 initial claims, down 994 initial claims from previous week

Industry sectors experiencing the highest percentage increase of initial claims during March 29 – April 4 were:

* Management of companies and enterprises sector: 270 initial claims, up 94 percent from the previous week.

* Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction: 167 initial claims, up 86 percent from the previous week

* Transportation and warehousing: 4,625 initial claims, up 27 percent from the previous week

* Arts, entertainment, and recreation: 6,762 initial claims, up 25 percent from the previous week

* Wholesale trade: 6,008 initial claims, up 15 percent from the previous week

By county

King County the most populous in the state and one that had already experienced a rise in claims the prior two weeks, saw initial claims increase from 44,613 to 47,233 during the week of March 29 – April 4, up 6 percent from the week before.

Other counties experiencing the largest increases in initial claims over the previous week were:

* Clark County: Initial claims filed increased from 8,661 to 9,378 up 8 percent from the week before.

* Pierce County: Initial claims filed increased from 22,145 to 22,379 up 1 percent from the week before.

* Okanogan County: Initial claims filed increased from 524 to 662 up 26 percent from the week before.

* Cowlitz County: Initial claims filed increased from 2,096 to 2,215 up 6 percent from the week before.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Business

File Photo
LA Fitness to reopen all locations Aug. 10

Gyms will follow state guidelines

BMW X3 xDrive 30e. Courtesy photo
BMW X3 xDrive 30e | Car review

With forces like BMW pushing, it’s only a matter of time before… Continue reading

2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT. Courtesy photo
2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT | Car review

OK folks, buckle your seatbelts. This week’s tester is the 2020 Dodge… Continue reading

A young chef carefully spreads sauce onto pizza dough during a cooking class at Young Chefs Academy of Covington. Courtesy photo/YCA Covington
Kids culinary school opens in Covington

The school takes the unknown out of cooking for kids, owner Deb O’Brien said.

A new measure from the King County Council could increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas of King County. File photo
County measure would increase flexibility for businesses in rural areas

Staff report Legislation the King County Council passed June 23 could lead… Continue reading

Snoqualmie Casino is located at 37500 SE North Bend Way, Snoqualmie. Courtesy photo
Snoqualmie Casino reopens June 11 with social distancing, other safety measures

Staff report Snoqualmie Casino will reopen to the general public at 6… Continue reading

Like similar businesses across King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, Bothell restaurant Hana Sushi closed due to public-health concerns. Sound Publishing file photo
Inslee changes course, says diners won’t have to sign in

Restaurants may still ask customers for information that contact tracers could use to stop an outbreak.

Businesses, nonprofits asked to participate in COVID-19 impact survey

Regional effort in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties

Construction worker installs siding to a building in Snoqualmie. File photo
Inslee gives construction a green light

It was unclear when sites would re-open, but employees will have to have PPE and stay six feet apart.

Report shows severity of COVID-19 impacts on hotels nationwide

70% of employees laid off or furloughed, eight in 10 hotel rooms empty