Unemployment | KNKX

Unemployment

Steve Weaver, an unemployed bartender, is touring the state to raise awareness of the unemployed who are going weeks, and sometimes months, without unemployment.
Jennifer Wing

Since the COVID-19 pandemic landed in Washington, the economic fallout has driven more than a million people here to apply for unemployment insurance. These payments have become the safety net for workers during the worst recession in generations. 

But tens of thousands of people are still waiting for their benefits to appear in their bank accounts.  

Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press (file)

COVID-19 emergency funds distributed by the state of Washington in April included $3 million for the state’s Civil Legal Aid program. Now, an additional $2.3 million has been tentatively approved for the program.

In the initial round of funding, the civil legal aid was targeted at helping workers get the unemployment money they’re due and preventing renters from being unlawfully evicted.

More than 800,000 people in Washington have filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

There also have been some fraudulent claims submitted. Some school district employees, including in the Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue districts, have discovered that fraudulent claims were filed in their names.

Fresh numbers of initial claims for jobless benefits showed some moderation in the past week in the staggering wave of layoffs across the Pacific Northwest caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But the level of unemployment claims continues to hover at record levels, as reported Thursday by the state labor and employment departments of Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

The unemployment rolls in Washington state and Oregon continue to swell like never before. Washington's Employment Security Department said Thursday that close to half a million workers have applied for jobless benefits over the past three weeks. Oregon recorded just shy of 270,000 new claims in the same period, which is far more than the 147,800 net job losses in Oregon over the whole duration of the Great Recession.

There are hundreds of thousands of additional jobless workers waiting in the wings to file claims, including part-time and gig economy workers and self-employed who qualify under expanded federal benefits. But they are temporarily frozen out. The wait for overloaded unemployment systems to catch up is leaving some of them frustrated or anxious.

The statewide unemployment rate in Washington again touched a record low of 4.5 percent in October. That's according to the Washington Employment Security Department, which has been tracking the number since the mid-1970s.

The statewide unemployment rate for Washington is holding at its record low in the latest jobs report out Wednesday. The state's Employment Security Department pegged the jobless rate in June at 4.5 percent, the same as in May.


The Great Recession ended 7 1/2 years ago, and job gains have been steady since, but greater demand for workers is only starting to increase pay.

The increases are still relatively modest, and the data are still mixed. In October, for example, the Labor Department reported average hourly earnings increased at a 2.8 percent rate — the highest since mid-2009, but wage growth slowed in November. A separate report this month showed the cost of labor — another measure of wage growth — increased especially during the spring of this year.

The U.S. added 255,000 jobs in July, according to the monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; economists had been expecting about 180,000 new jobs. It's the second month in a row showing job growth significantly stronger than anticipated.

The unemployment rate is holding steady at 4.9 percent, and the labor force participation rate ticked up slightly, from 62.7 to 62.8 percent.

Average hourly earnings are up 0.3 percent.

The statewide unemployment rate in Washington is not budging despite steady hiring by employers. It's stuck at 5.8 percent in the latest monthly jobs report released Wednesday by the Washington Employment Security Department.

Many Americans tell pollsters and politicians that they're angry. Why?

At least part of the answer might be tucked inside the February jobs report, released Friday by the Labor Department. Consider this:

The U.S. economy added just 151,000 jobs in January while unemployment dropped slightly, to 4.9 percent, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists had expected to see about 190,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate, which has held steady at 5 percent the past few months, dropped slightly to 4.9 percent. It's the first time unemployment has fallen below 5 percent since the recession.

The state unemployment rate in Washington and Oregon was falling at a steady pace in recent years. But lately it's stuck. The latest reading from Washington state released today (Weds.) pegs the state unemployment rate at 5-point-3 percent. That's the same it's been since June. Oregon's jobless rate actually edged up slightly last month to 6.1 percent, as new jobseekers outpaced job creation.

Washington state labor economist Paul Turek says the unemployment rate will probably resume its decline in autumn.

Washington Employment Security Department

Employers added 5,600 more jobs in Washington state last month. But the statewide unemployment rate as reported by the state Wednesday rose by three-tenths of a point to 6.0 percent. 

Ron Doke / Flickr

In recent years, corporate America has made a big push to hire veterans that seems to be paying off. Statistics show that veterans have a lower unemployment rate now than the overall population.

But that’s not the case for women veterans who have served since 9/11. Their unemployment rate of 11.2 percent is almost double the national rate of 5.8 percent. For men who have served since 9/11, the unemployment rate is 6.2 percent.

But when you start to try to figure out why women who served in the past decade or so are lagging in the job market, it quickly becomes apparent there are no easy answers.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Job growth stalled during September in Oregon and Washington, according to new numbers from the respective state employment departments.

In Washington's case, state labor economist Paul Turek is not too concerned by one month of flat hiring.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington state’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 percent in August — a half-percentage point below the national rate, according to a report released Wednesday by the state’s Employment Security Department.

State labor economist Paul Turek said improving economic conditions bode well for job seekers going into fall.

Steady job gains are chipping away at the unemployment rate in Washington state. New numbers released by the Employment Department Wednesday show the statewide jobless rate dropped to 6.1 percent in April, down from 6.3 percent in March. 

The vast majority of new jobs are being created in the Seattle metro area. In the last reporting month, the jobless rate in 87 percent of Washington counties was higher than the national average.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

High school junior Marcus Hollman wants a job — "something to get me into the job market," he says. But he keeps running into the same words like a brick wall: "professional experience required."

"There are very few employers ready to accept someone with no previous experience," said Hollman, a student at Harrison Preparatory Academy, after attending a youth-oriented job fair in Tacoma on Tuesday.

Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

It took four years, but Washington has now recovered more jobs than it lost during the Great Recession. But Wednesday’s announcement comes with a caveat.

It’s taking longer for Pierce County to bounce back from the recession than counties to the north, such as King and Snohomish. But economists at Pacific Lutheran University expect the economy in Tacoma and the region to show some improvement this year. 

PLU economists Martin Wurm and Neal Johnson have been crunching the numbers on everything from Pierce County’s housing market to retail sales to come up with an economic forecast. 

Mike Groll / AP Photo

The unemployment rate in Washington dropped a notch in November. New numbers released by the state Wednesday peg the jobless rate at 6.8 percent — down from a flat 7 percent the previous month.

Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Unemployment benefits are about to run out for tens of thousands of Northwesterners. Without a Congressional extension, payments will stop later this month to people who've been without a job for more than six months.

The holiday season will mean an end to unemployment checks for about 1.3 million Americans, including about 45,000 jobless in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. State benefits are still intact, but those last no more than six months. These cuts affect people who, in some cases, have been looking for work for more than a year.

The unemployment rate in Washington state edged up slightly in August to an even 7 percent as hiring slowed, according to new numbers released Wednesday from the state Employment Department.

The latest figures follow a surprising trend: Washington's jobless numbers hew closer to the national rate than any other state over recent years.

Steven Senne, File / AP Photo

Washington's statewide unemployment rate is staying "pretty flat" this summer according to a state labor economist. A fresh jobs report released Wednesday shows the unemployment rate ticked up a tiny bit to 6.9 percent in July, from 6.8 percent in June.

But state economist Paul Turek says he puts more stock in a different number from the monthly jobs report. He says the number of new jobs created last month continues to expand at a "decent" pace.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s idled construction industry continued to show signs of life in August. Nonetheless, the state’s jobless rate still rose slightly. Overall Washington lost 1,100 jobs last month. The new unemployment rate announced Wednesday is 8.6 percent -– up a tenth of a percent from July.

Construction was one of the bright spots. That hard-hit sector added nearly 2,000 jobs in August. But chief labor economist Joe Elling says construction is still digging out of a deep hole.

Brian Talbot / flickr.com

The average annual wage in Washington grew by 3.6% in 2011. 

The state Employment Security Department says wages outpaced inflation by 0.9 percentage points.

The average annual salary in Washington was $49,894 last year, up from $48,162 in 2010.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The latest jobs report for Washington state contains a paradox. It shows strong job growth in the private sector. But at the same time, the state unemployment rate also rose.

Washington's Employment Department Wednesday reported a May jobless rate of 8.3 percent, up slightly from the revised 8.2 percent rate of April.

State labor economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman said in a conference call that the higher unemployment rate was caused primarily by once-discouraged workers resuming their job hunts.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s jobless rate continues to inch downward. The April numbers out Wednesday put unemployment at 8.1 percent . That’s down from 8.3 percent in March. Most of April’s job growth was in manufacturing.

State economist Dave Wallace says so far 2012 is proving to be a recovery year in Washington.

Images courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry

Maybe you’ve heard the line, "Will the last person leaving Seattle turn out the lights." That well-worn phrase came from a billboard in 1971 as the Boeing Company stalled and then fell into a tailspin.

And while the "Boeing Bust" happened a long time ago, that economic slump, almost as much as the most recent one, is still a part of our collective consciousness.

Why does it still resonate all these years later?

Read more on I Wonder Why ... ?

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