Washington state jobless claims soar in wake of COVID-19 outbreak

By Rolf Boone

The Olympian

Washington state jobless claims soared more than 100 percent in the week that ended March 14, an early look at how the coronavirus outbreak has slowed the economy.

Jobless claims for that week rose 116 percent to 14,154 from 7,606 the previous week, according to new data released by the state Employment Security Department.

Unemployment claims tied to restaurants and bars, plus schools — two industry sectors that have been closed during the outbreak — showed the greatest increase, according to the ESD data.

• Food service and accommodation: Up 597.3 percent.

• Educational services: Up 569.5 percent.

• Arts, entertainment and recreation: Up 255.8 percent.

• Real estate, rental and leasing: Up 147.5 percent.

The largest group of workers filing new claims are 34 or younger, the data show.

“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,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine in a statement.