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Initial unemployment claims in Clark County up 35% last week

Clark County saw a spike in initial unemployment claims last week, up 500 claims, or 35 percent, to 1,911 claims.

“We just had more initial claims,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for Southwest Washington.

Bailey speculated that the increase in initial claims is related to the renewed increase in COVID-19 cases, which affects consumer behavior and businesses, he said.

“It may also be related to an overall decline in spending that we’ve seen since COVID began, so it may be a more long-term issue with businesses holding on for a while and then saying, ‘OK. We have to lay people off.’ ”

The claims were spread fairly evenly, indicating that there isn’t one employer or sector making cuts, he said.

“This is on multiple fronts,” Bailey said. “It’s smaller and spread out rather than concentrated in one sector or job function.”

While the initial claims increased last week, the increase was relatively small compared with March. The second-to-last week of that month had an increase of 5,800 initial claims.

“Compared to that month, (last week) was not a big number,” he said.

Statewide, initial claims increased 42.5 percent last week compared with the week before. Last week’s statewide initial claims hit 40,466.

The news wasn’t all bad. Continued unemployment insurance claims in Clark County went down by 2 percent, Bailey said.

Washington also had a decrease of about 4 percent in continued claims, indicating that even as some workers were laid off, tens of thousands of Washingtonians returned to work last week.


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