Clark County’s initial unemployment insurance claims show the largest week-over-week drop since the pandemic began, down 63.3 percent.
Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said that the drop-off was in part due to the state’s thwarting of fraudulent claims, which number into the tens of thousands of cases.
“The dramatic decline in initial claims this week is a strong signal that the additional steps we are taking to address impostor fraud are working,” she said in a news release from the Employment Security Department.
Clark County residents filed 2,128 initial unemployment claims in the week ending Saturday. It’s still a huge number compared to pre-pandemic claims; every week in January and February had fewer than 500 initial unemployment claims filed. A report released earlier this week pegged Clark County’s unemployment rate at 13.8 percent, the worst since 1983.
The state as a whole had a 61.5 percent decline in initial unemployment insurance claims last week. The state unemployment rate was calculated at 15.4 percent in April.
Washington residents have filed 1,996,257 initial claims for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. The state has paid about $4.7 billion in benefits to 807,071 people who have filed an initial claim, according to the news release.
Tens of thousands of those claims were apparently filed by overseas criminals who used stolen identities to receive benefits. LeVine said Thursday that Washington has recovered about $300 million of the money that was stolen thus far.