For the week ending May 16, workers in Washington filed 145,228 initial claims for unemployment insurance, a 31% increase over the prior week, according to figures released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 2.4 million claims in the latest week. That two-month total is roughly equivalent to all of the initial claims filed during the Great Recession.
The figure was in line with analysts' forecasts, and brings the average in new claims over the last four weeks to 3,042,000, seasonally adjusted, while the number of people actually receiving benefits - usually lower as applicants take time to be approved - 25,073,000 as of May 9, the Labor Department said. That sent the insured unemployment rate, or the number of people now receiving unemployment insurance as a share of the total eligible labor market, to 17.2 per cent for that period.
Even as an increasing number of states have begun reopening their economies across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic is largely expected to have continued to wreak havoc on employment in the US last week.
That program is aimed at workers like contractors and self-employed people who would not normally qualify for traditional benefits - indicating the weekly job losses may be closer to 4.7 million.
Nevertheless, after hitting a record in the week ending March 28, the weekly initial jobless claims figure has been on a steady decline.