Claims for unemployment benefits remain at record levels

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — More than 585,000 people in Washington sought unemployment benefits last week, with 143,000 people filing claims for the first time as businesses remain closed or with limited operations due to the stay-at-home order issued in response the cororavirus pandemic. The state Employment Security Department has paid out nearly $272 million in benefits since early March, with nearly $126 million being paid out last week to more than 265,000 unemployed workers. Officials say that aid that on Saturday, their system will be updated so that previously ineligible employees — like independent contractors and part-time employees who work fewer than 680 hours — can start applying for benefits under the expansion of unemployment benefits passed by Congress.