Employment Security Department reports 25,201 new unemployment claims in Washington last week, a 72% jump over prior week.

The state Employment Security Department delivered a bleak claims report today.

During the the week of November 1–7, Washingtonians filed 25,201 initial regular unemployment claims. This is an increase of 71.7 percent compared to last week. Total claims for all unemployment benefit categories during the week numbered 429,063, down 2.1 percent from last week. Employment Security Department collects and publishes this data.   

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at elevated levels and are 223 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
    • This is the largest weekly increase in initial regular claims since the week of Mar. 21.
    • Initial regular claims last hovered around 25,000 initial claims during the week ending Aug. 1.   

The ESD chart below tracks weekly claims. 

Seattle Times business reporter Paul Roberts writes,

Washington saw more new claims for unemployment benefits last week than any other U.S. state, according to data released Thursday.

Not a No. 1 we want to celebrate. There’s more, from the Times story.

An ESD press release noted that initial claims “typically increase this time of year due to seasonal layoffs, primarily in the agriculture and construction industries.” Thursday’s data showed large claims increases in those sectors and others, such as retail and food services, that typically see seasonal layoffs. 

But there were also large increases in most other sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance, and government, all of which saw roughly a doubling in new claims, while wholesale trade saw new claims jump 132%. 

Even white-collar sectors that have been less hard-hit during the pandemic saw large increases in jobless claims. Claims in the information sector jumped 151.7% while claims in finance & insurance jumped 223.6%.

The increases go “well beyond the expected seasonal culprits,” said Jacob Victor, an economist at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. “I suspect we are seeing the beginnings of a second major wave of layoffs to rival what we saw in March and April, and driven by a spike in COVID cases that looks much worse than what we saw then.”

Vigdor asks the critical question.

The economic and social impacts of the first spike were softened somewhat by massive federal intervention via enhanced benefits to workers and loans to employers that “kept money flowing through the economy,” Vigdor said. “What’s going to happen this time around?”

No one knows. Calculated Risk also points out that nationally, Many Millions could lose unemployment benefits at the End of 2020.