Last week’s unemployment claims were the third-largest number since the coronavirus pandemic began, state data shows.
State Employment Security Department data shows that 3,813 Yakima County residents filed first-time unemployment claims for the week ending May 16, an increase of 822 from the week ending May 9. It represents a 27.5% increase.
By comparison, 293 people filed initial claims in the same time period in 2019.
The largest number of first-time claims in the county was 4,222 the week ending March 28, the same week Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into effect and closed down nonessential businesses, the department data shows. The following week, 4,008 people filed claims, making it the second-highest amount since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The largest group filing new claims last week were people working in educational services, said Don Meseck, ESD’s regional labor economist. ESD data show 706 people in that sector filed for unemployment, compared with 316 the week before. Health care workers filed 551 claims, compared to 605 the week before, with agricultural workers filing 438 claims last week.
Meseck attributed the high number of education filings to support staff who were let go with school closures.
As of last week, Yakima County had 16,219 continuing unemployment claims, a 7.4% increase from previous week, the state reported.