Columbia Basin Continued Unemployment Claims and Benefit Payments

by Dallas Fridley

September 4, 2020

Continued unemployment insurance claims paid to unemployed workers living in the Columbia Basin peaked during the 17th week of 2020 (April 19-25) with nearly 3,100 claims. Continued claims reflect the current number of insured unemployed workers filing for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. COVID-19 impacts were first reflected in continued claims during week 12 (March 15-21), with the largest increase in claims following closely in week 14 (March 29 - April 4). Continued claims rose by more than 800 in week 14, climbing to nearly 2,200. Continued claims have improved gradually since the week 17 peak, falling to under 2,000 in week 23 (May 31 - June 6) and settling in below 1,600 in week 28 (July 5-11). Continued claims remain substantially above the pre-COVID-19 level experienced one year earlier, in July 2019, and also well above the Great Recession levels experienced in 2009 and 2010.
Benefit Payments

Workers living in the Columbia Basin collected $11.5 million in UI benefits during May 2020—more than 10 times the $1.2 million in UI benefits paid to claimants just two months earlier in March. Benefit payments include all regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs and all CARES Act programs except Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Over the four months impacted by COVID-19, beginning in April 2020, Columbia Basin workers collected $37.6 million in UI Benefits. In Umatilla County, unemployed workers collected $34.6 million or 92 percent of the Columbia Basin total from April through July. Workers living in Morrow County drew $3.0 million or 8 percent of the Columbia Basin’s UI benefits from April through July 2020.
Continued Claims by Industry, July 2020

Accommodation and food services led July 2020 UI claims activity in the Columbia Basin by a wide margin, with nearly 370 unemployed workers drawing benefits. Idled health care and social assistance workers ranked second, with 220 drawing benefits, followed by 190 workers from manufacturing and 150 idled by retail trade. Continued claims in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting impacted about 100 workers in July, while construction also idled about 100. Other industries with a substantial number of unemployed workers drawing claims in July 2020 included transportation and warehousing (90); administrative and waste services (80); public administration (50); and other services (50).

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