State unemployment claims skyrocket

OLYMPIA – The state saw a big hike the second week of March in the number of unemployment claims filed.

During the week of March 8-14, the Employment Security Department (ESD) received 14,154 new claims for unemployment benefits, an increase of 7,606 new claims over the previous week.

In King County the number of new initial claims filed increased from 1,837 to 5,834 over the same period, the state said. It did not provide numbers for Clallam and Jefferson counties on Friday.

New unemployment insurance claims are just beginning to rise due to COVID-19 related layoffs.

The highest percentage — up 597.3 percent — was in the accommodation and food sector.

Percentage increases in other sectors were educational services, up 569.5 percent; arts, entertainment and recreation, up 255.8 percent; and real estate, rental and leasing, up 147.5 percent.

Individuals 34 years of age and younger represented the largest group of workers filing new claims.

“A dramatically larger number of employers are announcing coronavirus-related layoffs or are utilizing SharedWork, so we anticipate substantially higher numbers of new claims in the report that will come out on March 26,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine.

For emergency rules for workers affected by COVID-19, see esd.wa.gov/news room/covid-19.

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