Several U.S. states are experiencing record unemployment benefit claims. That dramatic jump in unemployment threatens to wipe out the accounts that pay those claims, according to an analysis by the non-profit Tax Foundation.
The report found that nearly 19% of Washington State’s civilian workforce sought unemployment benefits for the week ending April 25. Working with U.S. Department of Labor data, the foundation reported that Washington State ranked 9th nationally in the percentage of the civilian workforce seeking unemployment benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic as states seek to curb the spread of the virus.
Washington Employment Security reports it has handled more than 1 million total unemployment claims during the pandemic. It is a historic high volume for Washington State, said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine.
Commissioner LeVine expressed regret about delays in processing the high volume of applications but has assured the public that benefits will be paid. “We want to remind people, the money won’t run out and you won’t miss out,” LeVine posted on ESD’s website. “You will be paid all the benefits for which you are eligible.”
The online news site The Lens reports that the state could try to replenish the unemployment fund from state savings or take money from the general fund. At the same time, however, state tax revenues are expected to drop significantly. The revenue shortfall has led to predictions that Governor Inslee will need to call a special session sometime later this year to address the state’s worsening financial situation.