OLYMPIA, Wash. - One in four unemployed workers in Washington does not
collect unemployment benefits, according to a national survey. The
percentage of people getting unemployment is called the "recipiency
rate" and, in Washington, it is 75 percent. To put that in perspective,
Sheryl Hutchinson, communications director for the Washington Employment
Security Department, says it has doubled since the recession first
"Three years ago, when we had record low unemployment in this state, the
recipiency rate was somewhere between 35 and 40 percent. The number of
people receiving benefits three years ago was a lot smaller than it is
now. So, the numbers have grown, and the percentage has grown. In terms
of sheer numbers, it's quite an increase."
There are a number of reasons people don't get unemployment. If they
didn't work long enough at a job, they didn't build up a so-called "base
year" of 680 work hours to qualify them for unemployment; or if they
quit a job or were fired with cause, they're not eligible. But
Hutchinson says part-time workers who have been laid off have an
especially tough time qualifying.
"To receive benefits, you have to be actively seeking work and, in this
state, we require that you be actively seeking full-time work. You can't
just be looking for part-time work. It's kind of a quirk in the law; we
actually have been talking to the Legislature about changing it, but
that's what it is right now."
She adds some part-timers can collect unemployment. Her advice for
anyone who isn't sure about whether they qualify is that it never hurts
to apply, either online or by phone.
Washington's recipiency rate is higher than the national average of 67
percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute
, the group
that did the national survey. But Hutchinson says by the end of this
month, about 13,000 people in Washington will have completely run out of
unemployment benefits, including the extensions passed by Congress.
The survey by state is available online at www.epi.org