A sign in the window of Blush Salon in North Everett on April 4 informs customers that it’s closed but selling gift cards, and encourages everyone to “stay safe and healthy.” (Sue Misao / The Herald)

A sign in the window of Blush Salon in North Everett on April 4 informs customers that it’s closed but selling gift cards, and encourages everyone to “stay safe and healthy.” (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Filing for unemployment starts off a little bit ‘clunky’

New claims in Snohomish County — 21,148 — were down slightly from the previous week’s tally.

Associated Press and Herald staff

OLYMPIA — More than 170,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits in Washington last week, bringing the total number of initial claims filed in the state to nearly half a million since mid-March, when businesses started closing or limiting operations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In Snohomish County, 21,148 people filed new claims for the week of March 29-April 4, down slightly from the previous week’s tally of 21,176.

The largest portion, 4,109, came from those working in the construction industry. Retail trade (2,652), health care (2,486) and manufacturing (2020) were the sectors with the next-highest numbers of new seekers of unemployment aid.

Since March 1, nearly 60,000 workers in Snohomish County have filed for financial assistance as a result of losing their job, being furloughed or having work hours reduced.

Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said Thursday that while claim numbers statewide for last week were down slightly from the previous week, she said she expected claims to surge again in the coming weeks as previously ineligible employees — like independent contractors and part-time employees who work fewer than 680 hours — can start applying for benefits under the expansion of unemployment benefits passed by Congress.

“Think of this leveling off as the water receding slightly prior to a tsunami,” she said.

The state has been working to update their system by April 18 to begin receiving and processing applications at that time from the newly eligible workers.

“We are preparing for hundreds of thousands, but we don’t know exactly how many people may avail themselves of it,” she said.

LeVine said that by the end of next week, the agency will have nearly 500 customer service agents — up from 300 — available to help through phone lines or virtual chat, and they plan to double that number the following week. She said that $150 million in benefits have been paid out in the state since mid-March.

But she encouraged people to first go to the agency’s website, in order to use the online eligibility checker and checklist.

“We know that the initial implementation of this new federal program will be a little clunky,” she said. “The primary goal right now is to get more people their money and to get it to them faster.”

The federal economic rescue package also added $600 a week in jobless aid, on top of what recipients receive from their states and extends 13 additional weeks of benefits beyond the six months of jobless aid that most states offer. In Washington state, where the maximum weekly benefit is $790 a week, the additional money will start being paid out after April 18, but will be paid retroactive back to March 29, officials said.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last week extended the state’s a stay-at-home order through May 4, saying that social distancing measures must stay in place an additional month in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

In the past three weeks, 16.8 million Americans nationwide have filed for unemployment aid due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Northwest

Alaska Airlines aircraft sit in the airline's hangar at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in SeaTac, Wash. Boeing has acknowledged in a letter to Congress that it cannot find records for work done on a door panel that blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight over Oregon two months ago. Ziad Ojakli, Boeing executive vice president and chief government lobbyist, wrote to Sen. Maria Cantwell on Friday, March 8 saying, “We have looked extensively and have not found any such documentation.” (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
FBI tells passengers on 737 flight they might be crime victims

Passengers received letters this week from a victim specialist from the federal agency’s Seattle office.

Skylar Meade (left) and Nicholas Umphenour.
Idaho prison gang member and accomplice caught after ambush

Pair may have killed 2 while on the run, police say. Three police officers were hospitalized with gunshot wounds after the attack at a Boise hospital.

Barbara Peraza-Garcia holds her 2-year-old daughter, Frailys, while her partner Franklin Peraza sits on their bed in their 'micro apartment' in Seattle on Monday, March 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Valdes)
Micro-apartments are back after nearly a century, as need for affordable housing soars

Boarding houses that rented single rooms to low-income, blue-collar or temporary workers were prevalent across the U.S. in the early 1900s.

Teen blamed for crash that kills woman, 3 children in Renton

Four people were hospitalized, including three with life-threatening injuries. The teenage driver said to be at fault is under guard at a hospital.

Snow is visible along the top of Mount Pilchuck from bank of the Snohomish River on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Washington issues statewide drought declaration, including Snohomish County

Drought is declared when there is less than 75% of normal water supply and “there is the risk of undue hardship.”

Dave Calhoun, center, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Jan. 24. (Samuel Corum / Bloomberg)
Boeing fired lobbying firm that helped it navigate 737 Max crashes

Amid congressional hearings on Boeing’s “broken safety culture,” the company has severed ties with one of D.C.’s most powerful firms.

Rosario Resort and Spa on Orcas Island (Photo provided by Empower Investing)
Orcas Island’s storied Rosario Resort finds a local owner

Founded by an Orcas Island resident, Empower Investing plans” dramatic renovations” to restore the historic resort.

People fill up various water jug and containers at the artesian well on 164th Street on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Washington will move to tougher limits on ‘forever chemicals’ in water

The federal EPA finalized the rules Wednesday. The state established a program targeting the hazardous chemicals in drinking water in 2021.

State: Contractor got workers off Craigslist to remove asbestos in Everett

Great North West Painting is appealing the violations and $134,500 fine levied by the state Department of Labor Industries.

Riley Wong, 7, shows his pen pal, Smudge, the picture he drew for her in addition to his letter at Pasado's Safe Haven on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County organization rescues neglected llamas in Yakima County

Pasado’s Safe Haven planned to provide ongoing medical care and rehabilitation to four llamas in its care at its sanctuary.

Whidbey cop accused of rape quits job after internal inquiry

The report was unsparing in its allegations against John Nieder, who is set to go to trial May 6 in Skagit County Superior Court on two counts of rape in the second degree.

LA man was child rape suspect who faked his death

Coroner’s probe reveals the Los Angeles maintenance man was a Bremerton rape suspect believed to have jumped off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.