Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaking at a 2019 event in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)
Washington state has seen an unprecedented spike in unemployment applications amid an order for all non-essential workers to remain in their homes to slow the COVID-19 outbreak.
Applications for unemployment benefits surged 843% over the past week. There were 133,478 Washington residents who applied for the program over that time period. That’s up more than nine times higher from the week prior. Two weeks ago, the figure was around 6,000.
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“We’ve seen nothing like us in our state’s history,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday at a news conference.
The numbers track with layoffs and business closures throughout the state, including in the technology industry. Leafly, an online cannabis brand based in Seattle, let 91 employees go earlier this week. The Pacific Science Center laid off more than than 300 employees. Co-working startup The Riveter and clothing rental service Armoire temporarily furloughed employees.
“If you look at the unemployment numbers that are cascading in, this is going to be a deep trench that we’re going to have to get over,” Inslee said.