Several U.S. states are experiencing record unemployment benefit claims that threaten to dry up financial reserves to pay them, according to an analysis by the non-profit Tax Foundation.
Its 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 virus pandemic that has resulted in business closures across the nation in the effort to curb the spread of the virus.
Washington Employment Security reports that it handled nearly 1.5 million total unemployment claims the week of April 19 to 25. It is a historic high volume of claims for Washington State, said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine.
Despite the Tax Foundation analysis and report, LeVine has expressed regret about delays in processing the high volume of applications but has assured applicants 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.”
Regarding this issue, 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. But state funds are expected to run short of normal revenues due to the closure of numerous businesses to help curb the spread of the virus.
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.