Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced additional steps to help small businesses mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19:
For the week ending March 28th, ESD received more than 180,000 new claims for unemployment insurance (that’s more than seven times the peak week in the 2008/2009 recession). In addition to the initial claims for unemployment insurance, ESD processed more than 350,000 total weekly claims, resulting in over $42,000,000 flowing to Washington households that week. In total, since March 16, ESD has put more than $67,000,000 into people’s pockets and into the economy. If you want to dig deeper into these figures to better understand the county by county or industry sector breakdowns, go to the ESD’s labor market website.
These are some of the things the ESD is doing to reduce flow and increase capacity:
The ESD website environment has remained stable and is servicing thousands of users every day. 95 percent of applications are coming through the website – and, once someone is approved, since ESD waived the waiting week, it’s only taking 7-10 days for people to get their weekly benefit.
Secure Access Washington ID authentication fix
Users with multiple accounts, or with accounts set up on old email addresses they can no longer access, would get locked out of the system and required to call to reset their information. Since getting through over the phone is not easy under current conditions, ESD rolled out a fix to the Secure Access Washington identification authentication system. This fix will make a significant difference for a number of people trying to access the system.
Federal program implementation
The ESD is preparing for the implementation of the federal stimulus programs included in the CARES act by upgrading their technology systems so that on April 18, they can begin accepting applications for the three main elements of the new law:
All of these benefits will be retroactively paid from the time people lost their jobs or otherwise became eligible under the federal CARES Act. So, once approved, they will receive a lump sum payment of all benefits that are owed to them at that point. They will then be able to file weekly claims for benefits moving forward.
Independent contractors, self-employed & fewer than 680 hours
These benefits will expand support for individuals who typically do not qualify for unemployment insurance, such as those who are self-employed, independent contractors and those without enough hours in the previous year. This will make a tremendous difference for many families in our state. The best course of action for those not currently eligible for Unemployment Insurance, is to go to the ESD website and sign up for COVID action alerts. This will be the fastest way to get the most up-to-date information about when and how they can access their benefits.
Family First Act
The ESD will soon be posting information, in partnership with Labor & Industries and Commerce, on these new programs such as Paid Sick Leave, Paid Family and Medical Leave, as well as the Paycheck Protection SBA Loan Program and the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan SBA Loan Program. This will be done through the Joint Information Center with materials and information published on the consolidated website: coronavirus.wa.gov
Please know that state legislators are holding virtual meetings frequently to discuss new developments as well as ideas to help our communities get through this very difficult period. It is up to the governor to call us back for a special session, but if he deems it necessary, we, and all of our colleagues, are ready to comply.
We hope you and your families are staying healthy.