New Unemployment Claims Increased over 116%

During the week of March 8-14, 2020 14,154 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed with the Employment Security Department (ESD) which was an increase of 7,606 new claims over the previous week. In King County the number of new initial claims filed increased from 1,837 to 5,834 over the same period.

New unemployment insurance claims are just beginning to rise due to COVID-19 related layoffsIn Washington state, the highest percentage of new claims filed during March 8-14 (week 10 per chart below) over the previous week occurred in the accommodation and food services sector, up 597.3 percent; educational services, up 569.5 percent; arts, entertainment and recreation, up 255.8 percent; and real estate, rental and leasing, up 147.5 percent. Individuals 34 years of age and younger represented the largest group of workers filing new claims.

“A dramatically larger number of employers are announcing coronavirus-related layoffs or are utilizing SharedWork, so we anticipate substantially higher numbers of new claims in the report that will come out on March 26,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “Already this week, we have seen the daily rate of new claims coming in at levels that are similar to the highest weeks of the 2008-2009 recession. 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. Our priorities are to get benefits out more quickly to those who are eligible, help more people become eligible for benefits and help those employers who are hiring get the staff they need right now.”

Gov. Jay Inslee also announced a number of measures on Wednesday to provide relief for businesses, workers and renters.

Industry Week 9 Week 10 Change % Change
Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting 349 356 7 2.0%
Mining 7 12 5 71.4%
Utilities 11 18 7 63.6%
Construction 1763 1979 216 12.3%
Manufacturing 763 989 226 29.6%
Wholesale trade 268 347 79 29.5%
Retail Trade 458 675 217 47.4%
Transportation & warehousing 321 569 248 77.3%
Information 119 199 80 67.2%
Finance and insurance 105 105 0 0.0%
Real estate, rental and leasing 99 245 146 147.5%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 333 409 76 22.8%
Management of companies and enterprises 14 11 -3 -21.4%
Administrative and waste management services 547 864 317 58.0%
Educational services 82 549 467 569.5%
Healthcare and social assistance 453 858 405 89.4%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 86 306 220 255.8%
Accommodation and food services 523 3647 3124 597.3%
Other services 151 324 173 114.6%
Public administration 86 125 39 45.3%


For more information by county and by industry sector for the year to date, check the weekly unemployment initial claims charts compiled by ESD’s Labor Market & Economic Analysis division.