The number of people applying for unemployment insurance was down about 16% last week across Washington, while initial claims in Spokane County continued to decline by about 15% last week.
Total claims in Washington were also down 4.8% last week, according to the Employment Security Department.
The department paid out more than $182.8 million for 357,077 individual claims for the week of Aug. 16 through Aug. 22.
Since the week ending March 7, the department has paid more than $10 billion in benefits.
The industries with the most first-time claims include accommodation and food services, construction, and health care and social assistance.
Spokane County’s initial claims continue to decline. Last week marked the sixth week in a row that claims decreased, with 1,057 new claims.
“Numbers are still high, but it’s very encouraging that we keep seeing these decreases week to week,” said Doug Tweedy, the department’s regional economist.
Accommodation and food services is still the industry facing the most initial claims, Tweedy said.
The number of continued claims also dropped by 6% last week – a 61% drop from the peak in early May.
Employers are changing how they do business, including different staffing patterns that allow more people to go back to work, Tweedy said.
The health care, manufacturing, finance, and professional and technical services industries all saw decreases in continued claims last week.
Tweedy said he expects to see both initial and continued claims steadily decrease.
“Of course, all of it’s impacted by the virus,” Tweedy said. “Employers have seen the virus for several months now and are starting to see changing in staffing.”
Despite continued decreases in claims, the numbers are still high compared with other years, Tweedy said.
The county’s unemployment rate increased to 11.4% in July, according to the department’s nonseasonally adjusted data.
The county’s unemployment rate was 5% in July 2019.
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