Washington attempts to spread out incoming unemployment claims

Coronavirus

Over 900,000 people are expected to have filed for weekly unemployment by next week

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — By next week, the total number of people filing for unemployment claims in Washington is expected to rise to 900,000 —  a number the state says it can’t prepare for.

The Employment Security Department released just how many people have filed for unemployment in Washington state. As April 18, it was more than 600,000. But over the next week, they say that total will rise to 900,000. That’s three times higher than the record set in 2008/2009.

The state really wants those most desperate to file their weekly claim on Sunday or Monday. If you can wait at all, they ask you file later in the week. They say spreading out the load on the system will make it faster for everyone.

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On Thursday, State Employment Commissioner Suzi Levine pleaded for help from unemployed workers.

“In order to process this incredible volume of claims, we’re asking or only those who find themselves in dire financial straits to file Sunday and Monday,” said Levine. “If you can afford to be paid few days later than usual then please wait.”

At the end of last week the department had 500 people answering phones, but is expected to have 1,000 people doing so by Friday. Levine said they have shifted other people who work for the department, and even have had people come back from retirement.

She also says it is crucial to fill out the online forms very carefully so you don’t need to talk to someone on the phone.

For the best luck on accessing the unemployment website the ESD suggests trying early in the day or late in the evening, to avoid the rush in the middle of the day.

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