by Alexa Peters
Recovery in south King County has not kept up with north King County and preexisting economic disparities between the two regions were exacerbated by the pandemic, a recent Economic Security Department (ESD) report said.
The August ESD report showed evidence of an ongoing economic recovery in King County, including an unemployment rate much lower than in other counties at 4.8%, suggesting that King County’s recovery has been the swiftest in the state. That said, data at the city level shows a different picture.
In January 2020, the highest unemployment rate among Auburn, Kirkland, Redmond, and Renton was 3.4% in Auburn, and the lowest was 2.1% in Redmond.
“While the relative positions of these four communities persisted throughout the pandemic, the gap over time has widened,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, regional labor economist for the ESD. “All four communities are worse off today than they were before the pandemic, but it is taking longer for the South End communities to recover.”
Continue reading Unemployment Data Shows Unequal Recovery, Galvanizes South End Equity Efforts
by Ashley Archibald
In a video posted to YouTube, a woman in a blue surgical mask stands in the corner of a walled-off yard, a puffy, slate gray jacket zipped against the cold. To her right is a table draped with a white cloth holding 19 votive candle holders. Slowly, deliberately, the woman reads a list of names.
In the silence following each name, a man lights a candle.
Continue reading A Hard Year for Those Without Shelter: Death Rates Rose and Pressures Increased for the Homeless During the Pandemic
by Carolyn Bick
With the end of the federal government’s assistance plan and potentially severe cuts to federal unemployment aid looming, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said that the state is unable to plan for the fallout, because it doesn’t have the authority to do that.
Continue reading Washington State Unable to Plan For Potentially Drastic Cuts to Federal Unemployment Aid, Inslee Says
The financial hardship caused by COVID-19 is making some reconsider stepping back into risky lifestyles in order to make ends meet.
by Ardo Hersi and Paul Kiefer
Allan’s first unemployment check was worth only $94. Though he’s raising three children, his tax refund and stimulus check were taken to cover unpaid child support fees, leaving him struggling to keep his family afloat. In a bind, Allan, who asked that his name be changed in this story, decided to return to a profession he hoped he’d left behind: drug dealing.
Continue reading Finding a Fix in a Pandemic: How COVID-19 is Reshaping the Seattle-Area Drug Trade
by Carolyn Bick
According to NaSushon Taylor’s unemployment claim, which as of mid-June was still listed as “[a]djudication in progress,” Washington State owes her more than $5,000 in unemployment.
She hasn’t seen a dime of that money.
For the first three months since she was furloughed from her dishwashing job at Cook Weaver in Capitol Hill nearly four months ago, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Taylor called Washington State’s Employment Security Department (ESD) every day to try to get the thousands of dollars in unemployment the state owes her.
Taylor has been fighting hard for it. When she was still calling ESD every day, it wasn’t unusual for her to call hundreds of times in one day. One day, she called ESD 541 times. Another, she called 511 times. Each time, ESD’s system disconnected her call.
Taylor isn’t alone. Robin, a registered nurse and tutor who preferred that the Emerald not print her last name or place of employment, was furloughed from one of her two part-time jobs at a local clinic in mid-March. She faced a different situation — ESD had told her that she owes the state $1,700 for allegedly inaccurately entering one of her employer’s names. But the end result was the same as Taylor’s: she dealt with endless holds and hundreds of dropped calls, while the bills continued to mount. And according to ESD, hangups, dropped calls, difficulties using the system, and general confusion aren’t an uncommon problem for the almost 1.17 million people who have filed for unemployment since March 7.
Continue reading “It’s Labyrinthine”: Workers Filing for Unemployment Benefits Face Dropped Calls, Confusing Online Systems, and Hours-Long Wait Times
by Carolyn Bick
Washingtonians who were previously unable to claim unemployment may now find themselves eligible for benefits.
At a press conference on April 16, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine announced an expansion to the state’s unemployment benefits program by implementing certain parts of the federal CARES Act, a response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Continue reading Washington State Expands Unemployment Eligibility, Increases Weekly Payment by $600 Through Federal CARES Act