Spokane County saw state's highest increase in new unemployment claims last week

click to enlarge Spokane County saw state's highest increase in new unemployment claims last week
Washington State Employment Security Department
Weekly claims spiked in Washington state last week, mirroring a massive spike seen nationwide as public spaces and businesses were shut down to slow the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Now that data is in for the week that followed Gov. Jay Inslee's first major order to shutter bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and more, it's clear that Washington had a significant increase in unemployment claims.

Spokane County saw the largest increase, going from 455 new claims in the second week of March to 8,766 new claims in the week of March 15 through March 21, an increase of 1,826 percent, according to Washington's Employment Security Department.

Statewide, the number of new claims for unemployment jumped from 14,154 new claims the second week of March way up to 133,464 new claims during the third week.

"This data shows the enormity of the situation unfolding in our state," says Suzi LeVine, Employment Security Department Commissioner, in a news release. "The 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."

The department is doing everything it can to meet the increased need, she continues.

The breakdown of new claims by industry for March 15-21 was as follows:
  • Accommodation and food services: 41,309 new claims, up 1,033 percent from the previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 18,902 new claims, up 2,103 percent from the previous week
  • Other services: 9,626 new claims, up 2,871 percent from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 8,700 new claims, up 1,189 percent from the previous week
  • Manufacturing: 5,276 new claims, up 434 percent from the previous week

Unemployment claims were up unfathomably high last week across the entire country, the New York Times reports, with more than 3.28 million claims made last week, four times higher than had ever been recorded.

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...