The Good News: Washington So Far Hasn’t Experienced the Biggest Spike in Coronavirus-Fueled Unemployment Claims Among the States
April 1, 2020By Bill Conroy
The bad news is Washington still ranked seventh among the states in total initial unemployment claims filed during the peak layoff week in March
Washington recorded the 14th highest percentage increase in unemployment claims in the nation for the week ending March 21 as COVID-19 social-distancing and self-quarantining practices took their toll on businesses across the state.
In terms of the sheer number of unemployment claims filed, however, Washington ranked seventh, with 133,478 initial claims filed during the period, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data by personal-finance platform SmartAsset. Ranking ahead of Washington in total initial unemployment claims filed between March 15-21 were Pennsylvania, 378,908; Ohio, 187,784; California, 186,809; Texas, 155,657; New Jersey, 155,454; and Massachusetts, 147,995
“Unadjusted, and in the 50 states alone, a total of 2.88 million people filed for unemployment for the week ending March 21,” the Smart Asset study states. “According to 2018 Census Bureau estimates, the labor force is about 165 million people strong in the 50 states. As such, the number of initial claims for that week represents 1.74% of the labor force.”
That compares to January and February of this year when an average of 0.15% of the labor force filed for unemployment per week, the study notes. For Washington, the percentage increase in unemployment claims filed for the week ending March 21, compared with the average filed per week in January and February 2020, was a whopping 1,675% ― the 14th highest mark among the states.
Topping the list on a percentage-increase basis over the same period was Nevada, at 3,775% ― with a total of 93,036 initial unemployment claims filed between March 15-21. Trailing Nevada were Louisiana, with a 3,750% increase and 72,620 total claims; New Hampshire, 3,596% and 21,878 total claims; North Carolina, 2,676% and 93,587 total claims; and Rhode Island, 2,614% and total claims of 35,436.
Utah broke with the pack, recording only a 1% increase in unemployment claims over the period, with 1,314 total claims filed during the week ending March 21 ― the lowest mark among all 50 states. Ranking just above Utah was Georgia, with a 39% increase in claims and 11,746 total claims filed for the week ending March 21.