SPOKANE, Wash. — There is an unprecedented demand for services from the Washington State Employment Security Department amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, there were 133,464 new claims for unemployment benefits in Washington state, according to the ESD. This is an increase of 119,310 new claims from the previous week.

“This data shows the enormity of the situation unfolding in our state,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “The velocity and volume of the impact of COVID-19 has created a crisis that is unprecedented in the history of the program – going back to the 1930s when it was established.”

Spokane County experienced the highest increase in unemployment claims statewide: 455 to 8,766, an increase of 1,826% from the previous week.

King County, the most populous in Washington state, saw new claims increase from 5,834 to 37,296 last week. This is an increase of 539% from the previous week.

All counties statewide experienced a spike in claims, with some of the highest jumps in Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

Specific industry sectors experiencing the highest percentage of new claims last week were:

  • Accommodation and food services: 41,309 new claims, up 1,033 percent from the previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 18,902 new claims, up 2,103 percent from the previous week
  • Other services: 9,626 new claims, up 2,871 percent from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 8,700 new claims, up 1,189 percent from the previous week
  • Manufacturing: 5,276 new claims, up 434 percent from the previous week

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — nearly five times the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.

RELATED: US jobless claims soar to record 3.3 million as layoffs jump

As job losses mount, some economists say the nation's unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.

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