Official Notices of Layoffs in Seattle Are Starting to Trickle in Via the Federal WARN Act

More filings are expected under the law, which requires employers with 100 or more employees to notify state officials when layoffs are occurring
Updated: Fri, 03/20/2020 - 08:59
  • More filings are expected in the near future under the law, which requires employers with 100 or more employees to notify state officials when layoffs are occurring

The wave of job cuts in Seattle caused by the self-quarantining and social-distancing practices now in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus is starting to show up in the official layoff notices filed under the mandates of the federal WARN Act.

The following companies have filed WARN notices announcing either temporary or permanent layoffs in Seattle exceeding 50 employees since March 4 —the day King County declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus.

  • • Schwartz Bros. Restaurants, 297 employees temporarily laid off, effective March 11. The popular Seattle dining chain operates four Daniel’s Broiler restaurants — and Schwartz Bros. Bakery — and has about 500 total employees.

  • • The Crowne Plaza hotel company in Seattle, 70 workers laid off temporarily effective March 19.

  • • Compass Airlines LLC, Seattle, 197 workers permanently laid off effective May 1, 2020. Compass is a regional carrier based in Minneapolis that flies smaller planes for American and Delta airlines, which have drastically scaled back flights in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

These companies represent only the tip of the iceberg in layoffs or worker shift hours being scaled back in Seattle because of the public-health response to the coronavirus crisis. Far more companies are likely to file WARN Act notices in the coming weeks based on the known data about business closures in the area. Under the WARN Act, employers with 100 or more workers must provide written notice to the Washington’s Employment Security Department and the top elected official in the community when a layoff or closure is occurring.

The economic devastation being caused by business closures due to the spread of the coronavirus is startling, both in the Seattle area and across the nation, based on data gathered by San Francisco-based tech company Homebase, which provides scheduling and time-tracking software tools for hourly workers to businesses nationwide.  

In Seattle, that translates into 41% fewer hours worked by hourly workers as of March 19, compared to two months earlier, based on an analysis of the 10,000-plus workers using Homebase software tools in the area. Over that same period, 33% of the 800-plus businesses served by Homebase in Seattle have closed, according to John Waldmann, co-founder and chief executive officer of Homebase.

“We expect to see [the number of business closures nationwide] rapidly rise as more forced closures go into effect,” a Homebased analysis of the data states. “It should, however, be less prevalent for businesses that provide ‘essential’ services and are exempt from forced closures, such as gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, and restaurants that offer take-out and delivery options. What remains to be seen is how many of the ‘non-essential’ businesses will be able to re-open once forced closures and social distancing mandates are over.”

Related Content

The tally represents only a slice of the economic gut punch caused by the virus, but naming the businesses hurt puts a human face on the numbers

Brian McGowan says greater Seattle’s unified public-private efforts to address the coronavirus-fueled downturn will help speed the recovery

The state follows a record-setting national trend

The state follows a record-setting national trend

All nonessential businesses are ordered closed for at least two weeks, although employees will be allowed to continue working remotely