Washington state’s unemployment claims saw another significant jump in a new report filed Thursday, April 2, painting a dire picture for the state’s long-term economic health.
Initial insurance claims soared to 181,975 for the week ending on March 28 — a record for the state, the Employment Security Department says. It’s also a 41 percent increase over the previous week.
In a press release, the Employment Security Department says these new numbers represent a 3,513-percent increase, year over year.
Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a statement that these new numbers suggest two things — that businesses and individuals are largely abiding by Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order and that the virus will likely have a profoundly negative impact on the state’s economic health unlike anything seen before.
“We are humbled here at ESD to help mitigate that economic impact by providing workers and businesses with some amount of relief, especially since we all play a key role in battling this virus. Thus far, we have put more than $67 million into people’s pockets and into the Washington state economy since the start of the COVID crisis,” LeVine said in a statement.
Weekly claims are expected to rise next week as well.
Last week, the Employment Security Department released a report that saw initial claims skyrocket to roughly 129,000. That sharp increase and the volume of initial claims “created a crisis,” LeVine previously said.
Washington state has confirmed about 6,000 cases of COVID-19, according to numbers reported by the Department of Health at midnight April 1. The state has also tested 74,798 individuals, with roughly 8 percent of tests coming back positive.
About 247 people have died from coronavirus-related illnesses in the state, the same report says.
In Thurston County, initial claims rose to 6,804 the week ending on March 28 — roughly a 44.5-percent increase over the week prior, which saw 4,708 claims.
The retail, construction, wholesale and manufacturing trades saw the highest percentage increase of initial claims, the new report says.
Construction took a big hit. Those industries saw a 438-percent increase over the week prior , which amounts to roughly 28,000 new claims during the week ending on March 28.
Retail trades also saw roughly 22,000 new claims, up 153 percent from the last week.
The week of March 22-28 coincides with Inslee’s March 24 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which banned all gatherings and closed a large number of businesses deemed non-essential.
That two-week order was aimed at minimizing public contact as the state saw a dramatic increase in the number of confirmed cases.
For more information from the Employment Security Department, or to file a claim for unemployment insurance, visit www.esd.wa.gov.
The best way to prevent coronavirus-related illness is to avoid being exposed, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says. The following are preventive measures the public can take, per CDC:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.