Oregon, Washington unemployment skyrockets in pandemic

Coronavirus

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Employment Department has continued to see record numbers of unemployment claims throughout the month.

The OED received more than 76,500 initial claims for Unemployment Insurance benefits during the week of March 15. Although they do not have finalized numbers for this week, OED said Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday tracked record breaking numbers, as well. This is a huge increase from just two weeks ago — when 4,900 unemployment claims were made during the week of March 8.

Nearly half of the first 23,000 claims came from workers in the leisure and hospitality industries, like restaurants and hotels.

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Due to the increased level of demand, OED has doubled the amount of employees working the claims. The department also suggests using their online platform in order to lower wait times over the phone.

These latest numbers out of Oregon came on the same day as the Labor Department released its updated numbers that showed nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — almost five times the previous record set in 1982.

WASHINGTON

In Washington state, nearly 134,000 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week — which is an 843% increase over the previous week.

“This data shows the enormity of the situation unfolding in our state,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “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.”

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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