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Washington unemployment claims increase 20% over last week

The Employment Security Department has paid out nearly $2.9 billion in unemployment benefits over the past 10 weeks.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — There were more than 1.3 million total claims for unemployment benefits filed in Washington state last week, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

During the week of May 3-9, ESD said it received 109,425 initial claims and 1,301,564 total claims for unemployment benefits. That is an increase of 8,663 initial claims over the previous week.

EDS said it paid out more than $767 million for 538,635 individual claims, an increase of nearly $130 million over the previous week.

RELATED: Why you’re not getting paid: Unemployment claim problems cause weeks-long delay

In the past 10 weeks, EDS has paid nearly $2.9 billion in unemployment benefits to Washingtonians. A total of 1,775,629 initial claims have been filed in Washington during the pandemic.

“We at ESD are incredibly proud to have paid out nearly $2.9 billion in benefits to Washingtonians over the past ten weeks – money that is vital to feeding people’s families, paying bills and paying rent. This is what drives us every day as we work to process the many tens of thousands of claims coming in each week,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “Yet even as we have delivered benefits to hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians, we know others are still waiting. 

"On Monday, I announced the launch of Operation 100% – our push to get all benefits to Washingtonians who are eligible for and want to receive them. This effort is focused on approximately 50,000 individuals who have issues on their claims that need to be resolved by one of our staff. By doubling down on processing these claims for those who have been waiting, and providing radical transparency around our efforts, Employment Security is turning a laser focus to getting all eligible Washingtonians the benefits they need during this unprecedented crisis.”

The Employment Security Department is restricting inbound calls to its claims center until May 19. 

RELATED: Total layoffs rise to 36 million since coronavirus hit

Restricting calls will allow agents to focus on outbound calling to "resolve complex issues for customers who have been waiting the longest for their benefits," according to ESD. It will also free up time to process claims with "simpler issues."

  • People applying for unemployment benefits can:
  • Apply for benefits and submit weekly claims online
  • Use the automated phone system to apply by calling 1-800-318-6022
  • Call questions hotline at 1-833-572-8400 (wait times could be long)
  • Report fraud using the fraud hotline 1-800-246-9763

The department had a backlog of more than 200,000 initial unemployment claims it wanted sort through by mid-June.