New unemployment claims increased over 116 percent during week of March 8-14

During the week of March 8-14, 14,154 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed with the Employment Security Department (ESD) which was 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.

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

In Washington state, the highest percentage of new claims filed during March 8-14 (week 10 per chart below) over the previous week occurred in the accommodation and food services sector, up 597.3 percent; 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. “Already this week, we have seen the daily rate of new claims coming in at levels that are similar to the highest weeks of the 2008-2009 recession. Our agency is working in close coordination with the Governor’s office as well as other state and federal agencies to ensure we do everything we can to address this crisis and find every support possible for Washington’s families and economy. Our priorities are to get benefits out more quickly to those who are eligible, help more people become eligible for benefits and help those employers who are hiring get the staff they need right now.”

Gov. Jay Inslee also announced a number of measures on Wednesday to provide relief for businesses, workers and renters.


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