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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Increase in jobless claims in state, Spokane County spurred by seasonal construction, retail layoffs

Laid-off workers in the state of Washington filed 29,651 new jobless claims Dec. 27-Jan. 2, a 54.5% increase compared to the prior week.  (Associated Press)
Laid-off workers in the state of Washington filed 29,651 new jobless claims Dec. 27-Jan. 2, a 54.5% increase compared to the prior week. (Associated Press)

The number of jobless claims rose last week with an influx of laid-off workers in the construction, accommodation and food services sectors seeking benefits, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Laid-off workers in the state filed 29,651 new jobless claims Dec. 27-Jan. 2, a 54.5% increase compared with the previous week, the ESD reported Thursday.

More than 557,419 claims in all unemployment benefit categories were filed last week, a 12.1% increase from a week prior.

The ESD paid more than $187.2 million in benefits for the week ending Jan. 2. It has paid more than $13.4 billion in benefits since the pandemic’s onset in the state in March. That total does not include $49.9 million in Pandemic Relief Payments issued to claimants. The PRP is a one-time $550 payment for a portion of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipients.

Construction sector workers filed the greatest number of new claims last week – 4,941 – a 48% increase compared to the previous week.

The new claims were fueled by seasonal layoffs, according to the ESD.

Workers in the accommodation and food services sector filed 3,096 claims. Those in the retail trade sector filed 2,230 claims, a 53% increase compared with 1,456 claims filed a week prior. The increase in retail trade claims is attributed, in part, to layoffs after the holidays, according to the ESD.

Health care and social assistance workers filed 2,208 claims, while the manufacturing sector filed 2,091.

Laid-off workers in Spokane County filed 2,144 new jobless claims during the week ending Saturday, a 64% increase compared with 1,306 claims filed the week before, according to the ESD.

The increase in new jobless claims in Spokane County was somewhat expected, as the accommodation and food service sector continues to be impacted by statewide COVID-19 mandates and seasonal layoffs in the construction industry typically occur in late December and early January, said Doug Tweedy, a regional economist for the ESD.

In the county, 769 new claims last week came from unknown professions, which have not been categorized into specific employment sectors. Laid-off specialty trade workers filed 261. Those from the food service and drinking places sector filed 214.Amy Edelen can be reached at (509) 459-5581 or at amye@spokesman.com.

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