Unemployment claims continued to rise in Kitsap County as residents filed 1,888 new initial unemployment claims in the week of April 19 through April 25, the most recent week for which data is available.
A total of 4,266 initial claims were filed, which is down from the peak of 4,968 initial claims during the week of March 22 through March 28. These numbers include individuals who filed first-time claims as well as additional claims as a result of new unemployment. The initial claims number is not indicative of the number of claims that will actually result in compensation.
Statewide, initial claims rose again as well to 137,605, a 2,500 percent increase from the same week in 2019. The previous week saw 82,435 initial claims.
The number of claims continues to place stress on the Employment Security Department as there are still many Washingtonians who are awaiting their payments.
“It is beyond frustrating for these individuals,” said Commissioner Suzi Levine, “and we will continue to work night and day until everyone receives their benefits.”
“Unfortunately, resolving these issues takes both people and time,” Levine continued. “Claims may be pending for a number of reasons, the most common of which is a discrepancy between the information the employee entered when applying for unemployment, and the information reported to us by their employer. In order to make sure the customer is eligible for benefits, and to ensure due process for both the employee and employer, these cases need to be adjudicated.”
“Under normal circumstances, cases are adjudicated within 21 days. That means additional information is requested and reviewed by a trained adjudicator and a decision is made in about three weeks. However, right now is anything but normal. We’ve had more claims in the past 7 weeks than we had in the prior 3.5 years combined! The work of an adjudicator requires specialized training and additional skill development in order to make sure these cases are fairly and accurately processed, and it takes time to staff up this team. In the meantime, we know that people continue to wait for an answer.”
The ESD has more than tripled its staff and is continuing to hire to help process as many claims as possible, Levine said.