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The number of new unemployment claims more than doubled in Washington state last week, state officials announced Friday.
The number of claims increased over 116 percent during week of March 8-14, officials said.
According to the Employment Security Department, a total of 14,154 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed with the department. That’s an increase of 7,606 new claims over the previous week.
State officials said new unemployment insurance claims are just beginning to rise due to layoffs related to the spread of COVID-19 in Washington.
The highest percentage of new claims occurred in the accommodation and food services sector — up 597.3 percent.
Educational services saw the second-largest increase (up 569.5 percent), followed by arts, entertainment and recreation (up 255.8 percent), and real estate, rental and leasing (up 147.5 percent).
Workers who are 34 years of age and younger represented the largest group of people filing new claims, according to the Employment Security Department.
The numbers of new unemployment claims are expected to climb even higher by next wek.
“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 Employment Security Department 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,” she added.
“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,” LeVine said.