Washington Employment Security Department

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Frustration with long delays in getting jobless benefits is boiling over into a lawsuit against the Washington State Employment Security Department. Attorneys representing two laid off workers and the nonprofit Unemployment Law Project filed the case directly with the state Supreme Court on Friday.

Megan Farmer / KUOW

Fresh numbers of initial claims for jobless benefits showed some moderation in the past week in the staggering wave of layoffs across the Pacific Northwest caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But the level of unemployment claims continues to hover at record levels, as reported Thursday by the state labor and employment departments of Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

The unemployment rolls in Washington state and Oregon continue to swell like never before. Washington's Employment Security Department said Thursday that close to half a million workers have applied for jobless benefits over the past three weeks. Oregon recorded just shy of 270,000 new claims in the same period, which is far more than the 147,800 net job losses in Oregon over the whole duration of the Great Recession.

There are hundreds of thousands of additional jobless workers waiting in the wings to file claims, including part-time and gig economy workers and self-employed who qualify under expanded federal benefits. But they are temporarily frozen out. The wait for overloaded unemployment systems to catch up is leaving some of them frustrated or anxious.

In March, Governor Jay Inslee announced Dale Peinecke's resignation as commissioner of the Employment Security Department following a workplace conduct investigation. But Peinecke ended up running the agency remotely for two more months after that.
Washington Employment Security Department

Washington Employment Security Department Commissioner Dale ​Peinecke is resigning following a workplace investigation into allegations he behaved inappropriately toward women on his staff.