State notes record number of unemployed

Despite snow-related closures and overloaded telephone systems, the state’s Employment Security Department took in a record number of new unemployment claims in December.

  • Tuesday, January 13, 2009 2:59am
  • Business

Despite snow-related closures and overloaded telephone systems, the state’s Employment Security Department took in a record number of new unemployment claims in December.

Some 90,331 people applied for regular unemployment benefits in December, an increase of about 75 percent over December 2007. The previous record was set in December 2001, when 72,942 people filed initial claims.

The week of Dec. 21-27, 2008, which included the Christmas holiday, also set a one-week record, taking in 25,687 new unemployment claims, nearly twice as many as the same week in 2007.

Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee said the record numbers of applications are especially staggering, considering that the department’s unemployment call centers were closed or understaffed for several days in December due to snow and the offices were closed on Christmas Day.

“We knew the workload was skyrocketing, but were surprised when we saw the final numbers for the month,” said Lee. “We’ve been increasing our phone capacity as fast as possible in order to help people with their unemployment claims.”

In addition to adding phone lines, the department has doubled staff at its unemployment call centers since last summer and is working to hire and train additional staff.

At the end of 2008, more than 136,000 Washingtonians were receiving unemployment benefits, compared to 72,910 at the end of 2007.

Unemployment benefits are paid out of the state’s unemployment-insurance trust fund. The trust fund has a current balance of more than $4 billion and is considered to be one of the healthiest in the nation.

By law, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit is $541 and the minimum is $129. The average weekly payment in 2008 was about $350.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Business

2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT. Courtesy photo
2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT | Car review

OK folks, buckle your seatbelts. This week’s tester is the 2020 Dodge… Continue reading

BMW X3 xDrive 30e. Courtesy photo
BMW X3 xDrive 30e | Car review

With forces like BMW pushing, it’s only a matter of time before… Continue reading

Congresswoman Schrier to host Zoom meeting for local businesses

You must first register for the July 20 event to get the Zoom link.

‘Lights out’ in Seattle in 2022 | Don Brunell

Seattle’s tax increases on businesses may make the one-proud city a ghost town.

MultiCare makes plans to come to Black Diamond

The Diamond Square complex is also looking for other local businesses to move in.

24 Hour Fitness to close clubs in Kent, Auburn, Renton

Panther Lake Kent location scheduled to reopen next month

China’s push for high-tech dominance

The country’s control of rare earth metals will give it a key advantage in this fight.

Westfield Southcenter Mall to reopen June 15

Modified hours; safety protocols

Enumclaw High students earn state FFA honors

Together, these eight students have completed a combined 2,880 hours of classroom instruction and 2,400 hours of work on their Supervised Agricultural Experience projects.

Goodwill to reopen donation centers, stores in King, Pierce counties

Including Kent, Auburn, Federal Way locations

Sound Publishing offering matching advertisement grants

Your local paper is offering $200,000 in matching grants so local businesses can stretch their advertising budgets.