Washington state unemployment claims shot up 843% last week, mirroring the national trend.
Between March 15-21, 133,464 Washington residents filed for unemployment, according to the Employment Security Department. Nationally, 3.28 million Americans filed during the same time period, about twice as many as previously estimated. The previous record was 695,000 claims in October 1982.
In Washington state, the hospitality and food-service sectors were hardest hit as restaurants and retailers continue to close and vacancies at regional hotels approach 60%. The state reported 41,309 new claims.
Laid-off health care and social assistance workers filed 18,902 claims, followed by retail trade and manufacturing.
“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,” says Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine.
Spokane County experienced the highest percentage increase, with 8,766 claims, up 1,826 percent from the week before. Claims in King County increased to 37,296, up 539 percent.