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ALERT: Demand for agency services

Updated 3/18/2020

During these unprecedented times many of our fellow Washingtonians are turning to Unemployment Insurance, many for the first time, to provide them the financial stability they need. This has created a tremendous spike in demand for this program. The spike in applications and phone calls we are receiving is unparalleled, and we are doing everything we can to address it.

Despite some people having difficulty, there are many who are getting through and we are pulling out all the stops to rapidly expand our capacity.

We acknowledge that Unemployment Insurance is complex. Additionally, we put in place last week, via emergency rule, steps to accommodate a broader set of people and businesses - for example, a business may now put their part-time employees on standby as well as their full-time employees. This change is not yet built into our software and many people were receiving automated denial letters. We have implemented a manual workaround to accommodate those individuals and are reaching out to those customers to let them know whether they are eligible. Gov. Jay Inslee today also announced the waiver of the one week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefitto get more funds in the pockets of unemployed workers at a time when they need it most. 

Additionally, here are just a few of the steps we are taking:

  • Hiring more than 100 new staff into the Unemployment Insurance program, all with remote/virtual work options; View current openings
  • Helping folks better navigate our Unemployment Insurance system by Posting more – and more clear – information on our website and social media channels;
  • Extending our service hours to 7 days a week and for more hours per day
  • Reassigning staff from other parts of the agency to provide more customer service;
  • Deploying a new toll-free number to answer general questions from the public.

Fundamentally we are putting all our hearts, and souls and hard work in to meet the needs of those we serve. We ask for your patience and partnership as we adapt to these unprecedented times. We will get through this together. 

Please continue to check our social media and our website for the most recent information.