More than 150,000 people in Washington state filed jobless claims for the first time last week as many businesses buckle under the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown orders. But that total, for the week ending April 11, was about 20,000 fewer than filed for unemployment insurance in the previous week, according to the latest state Department of Labor numbers.
Nationally, 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, a decline of about 1.3 million from the week before.
The declines come as the federal government began funding small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program created by the $2 trillion stimulus package. Though many companies ran into delays and red tape, some are receiving funds in their bank accounts. The loans are forgivable if businesses retain the majority of their staff.
The government said Thursday that the $349 billion allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program has run out, less than two weeks since launching.
A survey of Washington businesses by the National Main Street Center found 76% have employees at risk for layoffs or unemployment as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Some 37% said they will last less than 2 months before having to close permanently under current conditions. Those numbers, compiled by the Downtown Seattle Association, skew toward small towns in Washington, rather than big cities.
In the five-week period ending April 4, there were 126,813 new jobless claims in King County, the region that contains Seattle and Washington’s main tech hub. The Downtown Seattle Association estimates the unemployment rate in King County is now likely above 13 percent, up from less than 3 percent at the beginning of 2020.
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