Unemployment claims still at record levels in Washington

Despite a drop from the week before, the claims for unemployment benefits in Washington state have stayed at record levels according to the most recent statistics announced by state officials.

According to the state Employment Security Department, there were 100,762 new claims and 1,086,031 total claims for unemployment benefits the week of April 26 through May 2.

Initial claims for regular unemployment during that one-week span were 100,762, compared to 137,605 from the week before.

New claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance also dropped; to 59,234

from the previous week.

Total claims fell to 1,086,031 from 1,455,908 the week of April 26-May 2.

Officials said a total of 1,428,775 initial claims have been filed since the week ending March 7 when the COVID-19 job losses began.

So far, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits is 810,538; officials said 545,178 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid.

“Since the COVID-19 crisis began in early March, Employment Security has sent $2.14 billion into the pockets of more than half a million Washingtonians,” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “This makes an enormous difference to those individuals and their families, and we are humbled to be able to provide these services in such a critical time.”

Not everyone who has filed has received unemployment benefits, however, LeVine added.

“There are approximately 57,000 who are waiting because there are issues with their claims we are working to resolve,” she said.

“Getting those Washingtonians their benefits is our agency’s top priority. We are doubling down on activities already underway to reach our goal of getting all of those claims in adjudication resolved or paid by June 15,” LeVine said, and she noted that the agency will be posting more information on the department’s website in the coming days.

Industries experiencing the highest number of initial claims during April 26-May 2 were healthcare and social assistance businesses (10,272 initial claims, down 789 initial claims, or 7 percent, from the previous week); retail trade: (8,489 initial claims, a decline of 1,908 initial claims, or 19 percent, from the previous week); and accommodation and food services businesses (8,435 initial claims, a drop of 1,614 initial claims, or 16 percent, from the previous week.