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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jobless claims rise in state, fall in Spokane County

This photo shows the headquarters of the state Employment Security Department. Spokane County's unemployment rate for June rose to 3.0%.  (Associated Press)

Seasonal layoffs in construction and agriculture contributed to a rise in new jobless claims in the state last week, but they continue to drop in Spokane County, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Laid-off workers in the state filed 19,192 new jobless claims Dec. 20-26, a 9.1% increase compared with a week prior, the department reported Thursday.

More than 497,370 claims in all unemployment benefit categories were filed last week, a 8.4% increase from a week prior.

The ESD paid more than $139 million in benefits for the week ending Dec. 26. It has paid more than $13.2 billion in benefits since the pandemic’s onset in March.The construction sector filed the greatest number of new claims last week with 3,329, followed by the accommodation and food services sector, which filed 2,095 requests.

Health care and social assistance workers filed 1,578 claims and retail trade filed 1,456 new requests for benefits.

While the number of workers seeking unemployment rose in the state, the numbers kept falling in Spokane County.Laid-off workers in Spokane County filed 1,306 new unemployment claims the week ending Dec. 26, a 4.4% decrease compared with 1,366 claims filed the week before, according to the employment security department.

In the county, 204 new claims last week were filed from unknown professions, which have not yet been categorized into specific employment sectors.

Laid-off workers in the food services and drinking places sector filed 152 claims, administrative and support services filed 128, while specialty trade contractors filed 125, according to ESD data.The ESD is updating its systems to maintain continuity of jobless benefits – including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – amid a rollout of the new federal stimulus measure, the department said in a news release Wednesday.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs had expired on Dec. 26.

The ESD expects to begin processing Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides an additional $300 per week in benefits, on Jan. 15, according to the news release.

“The vast majority of claimants will not experience any gap in their benefits as long as they continue to submit their weekly claims,” ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a statement.