COVID-19 cornavirus layoffs

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Unemployment claims in Washington have skyrocketed due to recent COVID-19 related layoffs, increasing 843 percent over the past week.

The Washington State Employee Security Department says during the week of March 15-21, 133,464 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed, an increase of 119,310 new claims over the previous week's total of 14,154.

Spokane County saw the biggest increase in the state from 455 to 8,766 new claims, up 1,826 percent from the previous week.

"This data shows the enormity of the situation unfolding in our state,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. β€œThe velocity and volume of the impact of COVID-19 has created a crisis that is unprecedented in the history of the program – going back to the 1930s when it was established. To address this, I have an amazing team working hard on three very clear priorities: get benefits out more quickly to those who are eligible, expand eligibility for those who can utilize this benefit, and help employers find staff for essential jobs. The entire department is doing everything we can to meet the needs of this situation and our fellow Washingtonians.”

Several industries have been hit hard the past week, with thousands of new claims:

  • Accommodation and food services: 41,309 claims, up 1,033%
  • Health care and social assistance: 18,902 claims, up 2,103%
  • Other services: 9,626 claims, up 2,871%
  • Retail trade: 8,700 claims, up 1,189%
  • Manufacturing: 5,276 claims, up 434%