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 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.
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 16th, 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. 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,” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “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.”
Below is a five-week summary of statewide initial claims filed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis:
|For the week ending on:||Total number unemployment claims paid||Number initial unemployment claims**||Increase/decrease of initial unemployment claims over previous week||Increase of initial unemployment claims over same week in 2019|