Unemployment claims doubled last week as coronavirus shutters businesses

Numbers like this haven’t been seen since height of the Great Recession.

The coronavirus outbreak generated a groundswell of new unemployment claims last week, as service, arts and education workers were laid off.

During the week of March 8, there were 14,154 new claims for unemployment benefits filed with the state’s Employment Security Department. It marks a 116 percent increase amid orders for bars, schools, in-person dining at restaurants and more businesses to shut down in an attempt to reduce the number of Covid-19 infections.

The Department is expecting even greater numbers of coronavirus-related layoffs in it’s next report which will come out on March 26. The daily rate of new claims is similar to the worst weeks of the Great Recession more than a decade ago.

“Our agency is working in close coordination with the Governor’s office as well as other state and federal agencies to ensure we do everything we can to address this crisis and find every support possible for Washington’s families and economy,” said the Department’s Commissioner Suzi LeVine in a press release.

Dramatic increases in filings were concentrated in a few areas. Food service workers claims jumped nearly 600 percent, with educational workers filings not far behind with a nearly 570 percent increase. Entertainment and recreation filings spiked roughly 256 percent, and real estate, rental and leasing increased 147 percent. Workers under 35 represented the largest group filing new claims.

Economists have been sounding the alarm over the outbreak causing a new recession which could cost millions of jobs. The Economic Policy Institute expects 3 million jobs to disappear by summer, and more than 80 million could be impacted nationwide, according to a Moody’s report.

Low-wage workers which have been unable to save up a personal safety net amid years of skyrocketing rents will likely be hit hardest.


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