Washington unemployment claims see slight rise, remain at record levels

Coronavirus

Initial claim applications are up 450% from this time last year

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington’s Employment Security Department saw a slight rise in unemployment claims for the week of June 14 through June 20, the department announced on Thursday.

According to the ESD, there were 29,612 initial regular unemployment claims and 718,615 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories over the week. That represents a 2.0% rise from the prior week in initial claims and a 3.3% rise for total claims.

ESD says regular initial claim applications are up 450% from this time last year.

Although regular unemployment claims continue to increase, the numbers coming in from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation have decreased. ESD also said that despite this slight rise, claims in recent weeks have remained somewhat stable.

“Although we did see a very slight increase in initial claims this week, we have held fairly steady the last three weeks at around 29,000 new unemployment claims,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “While this is a significant drop from our peak earlier in the crisis, we have leveled off at what are still record high numbers – exceeding what we saw in the peak of the recession.”

The industry sectors hit the hardest over the last week include health care and social assistance, which saw a 4% decrease, along with accommodation and food services, which saw a 5% increase. The sectors had 3,446 initial claims and 3,401 initial claims, respectively.

Since early March when the pandemic first began impacting jobs, the ESD has paid Washingtonians over $6.5 billion in unemployment benefits.

This United States Department of Labor also released their most recent numbers on Thursday, saying the national unemployment benefits declined slightly to 1.48 million last week. This makes for the 12th straight drop and a sign that layoffs are slowing down — but are still at an unprecedented level.

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