Recent Updates

Update for People Awaiting Unemployment Benefits

The Employment Security Department (ESD) has provided additional information for people who have not successfully qualified or received unemployment insurance benefits. See below if this issue is affecting you:

Unemployment Benefits Adjudication Update

ESD is working night and day to resolve this: This includes clearing out issues for things that aren’t relevant during the COVID-19 crisis. ESD is also adding more staff. Hear more from ESD’s commissioner, Suzi Levine.

While you wait: Check your spam folder—regularly. Adjudicators may be trying to reach you with questions so they can resolve the issues that are blocking your benefits. Did you apply online through eServices? You’ll get messages from no-reply@esd.wa.gov asking you to sign in. Sign in and respond to those requests within five days—the sooner the better. You may also get follow-up emails from ESD. Make sure you reply to those emails directly.

Answer your phone if you get a call from 800-318-6022. If you miss a call from ESD, the only way to call back is through the main line for the claims center—and it won’t be easy to get through. Do everything you can to answer your phone and avoid calling back through the claims center. ESD’s claims centers are overloaded. The department has seen a 1000% increase in calls to its claims center, and last week was getting 100 calls per second.

What is adjudication? It’s required when ESD needs more information to determine your eligibility for benefits. There are a lot of different reasons for this. Often, the department needs more details about why you’re not working. ESD also needs to verify that you meet requirements, such as being able to work if a job is available.

Why does it hold up payment? All benefits are determined on a case-by-case basis. Your specific circumstances affect what you’re eligible for. ESD needs to confirm things like work history, any job separations, and the hours you’ve worked before the department can determine what you’re eligible for. And, if incorrect information was accidentally submitted, ESD has to verify the correct information before it can approve a claim.

Adjudication requires fact-finding and specialized expertise. Adjudicators go through extensive training to develop deep expertise. They’re different than ESD’s intake staff, who are prepared to answer more general questions. If, for example, employers give ESD information that doesn’t match, adjudicators:

  • Do more fact finding to identify the correct information.
  • Apply state and federal laws.
  • Determine if workers are eligible and the kind of benefits they can get.

Under normal circumstances, it takes around 21 days to adjudicate issues on a claim: These aren’t normal circumstances. ESD has had more applications in the last seven weeks than the previous three and a half years combined. And with so many businesses closed, it’s harder to reach employers if ESD needs to verify information with them.

It’s about due process for everyone: ESD does not want to deny your benefits because of a discrepancy and needs to ensure claims filed under your name are really you. It is important to protect you, and all taxpayers, from fraud. Unfortunately, this does take time. ESD is sorry you have to wait and is working hard to resolve all cases in adjudication as quickly as it can.

Stay tuned for more: ESD will be posting updates on its progress to resolve adjudication cases on its website at esd.wa.gov/unemployment/adjudication starting next week.

Port of Olympia Reopening Select Facilities

Per Governor Inslee’s direction regarding the partial reopening of certain outdoor activities beginning May 5, the Port of Olympia is making a number of public facilities accessible, including:

  • Billy Frank Jr. Park & Trail
  • Port Plaza
  • Swantown Boatworks
  • Swantown Marina boat launch
  • Swantown boat launch parking
  • Swantown restrooms near BC docks

Governor Issues New COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard

It has been about 100 days since the first case of COVID-19 was announce in Washington State. As we make progress “flattening the curve,” many of us are wondering if and when it will be safe to reopen the economy. Governor Inslee recently announced reopening would be introduced in phases, to ensure economic recovery does not come at the expense of public safety. To learn more about the Governor’s decision-making process and view data measures that impact timing, visit: https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-rolls-out-covid-19-risk-assessment-dashboard-with-data-6bc5bc79324d

Preliminary Economy Reopening Guidance

While Governor Inslee has extended the general Shelter at Home Order, some industries are beginning to phase back into work and others will follow in the ensuing weeks and months. While official guidance and rules will be issued by the Governor’s office, now is a good time for businesses and customers to begin conceptualizing what a return to work and shopping might look like. Next week, we will be adding a new section to thurstongstrong.org called “Returning to Work.” It will include a variety of resources including general and industry-specific guidelines for re-opening and operating safely. Currently, the State is planning to phase-in business and activities as follows:

Washington's Phased Approach

CARES Act Round Two: New Funding Available Soon!

Thank you to the Thurston EDC for the following update on SBA loans…

Congress has passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provides critical additional funding for workers and small businesses affected by coronavirus. This impacts the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

  • If you have already applied for the PPP,  you should not have to apply again.
  • If you have not applied for the PPP, check with your lender to see if they are SBA approved. If not, consider checking alternative lenders including PayPal, Intuit, Square and Kabbage.
  • If you have not applied for EIDL since 4/3 you will have to reapply.

For more information about this new funding: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm987


Governor Announces Washington State COVID-19 Recovery Plan

On April 22, Governor Jay Inslee presented a new plan for reopening Washington State for business. The plan includes continued social distancing and then a phase-in of various economic sectors. The Plan is built around three primary focus areas:

  1. Protect the Health and Safety of Washingtonians: Guided by data and science, we must continue to suppress the virus, protect our most vulnerable and treat those who are sick. We must ensure that COVID-19 infections and deaths are decreasing and that we have sufficient testing and contact identification in place before taking steps toward loosening restrictions.
  2. Facilitate a Safe Start and Transition to Economic Recovery: A healthy workforce is needed for a healthy economy. When it is safe, we will take measured steps to get people back to doing what they do best in a way that protects themselves and their communities’ health.
  3. Support All People and Communities: We will use an equity lens for recovery efforts to enhance people’s physical, emotional and financial well-being, with particular attention to those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including communities of color, individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals with disabilities, as well as those experiencing unemployment, poverty, and food insecurity.

To learn more, please visit: https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/Washington%27s%20Recovery%20Plan%20.pdf

Resources for Artists

Thank you to the City of Olympia ArCH Digest for alerting us to resources available for artists.

The Allied Arts Foundation has announced a new grant opportunity for writers. Eight awards between $1,000-$5,000 will be awarded to poets residing in Washington State. An online application is available at https://www.alliedarts-foundation.org/grants/.

Americans for the Arts Action Fund has created a resource table that provides comprehensive information on accessing CARES Act federal relief funds from the perspective of a nonprofit arts organization, a governmental arts agency, a commercial arts company, a self-employed individual artist, and as a taxpayer: https://www.artsactionfund.org/CARESActTable.

The Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) is accepting applications from non-profit and fiscally sponsored arts groups and organizations that are facing financial hardship due to economic impacts related to COVID-19. The funding is made available through the CARES Act, distributed to state and regional arts agencies by the National Endowment for the Arts. ArtsWA will manage and oversee the grant process for the state. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis between April 17 and May 31. Grants of up to $5,000 can be used for general operating support. No matching funds are required, although recipients must have a DUNS number: https://www.grants.gov/applicants/organization-registration/step-1-obtain-duns-number.html. To apply, go to https://www.arts.wa.gov/cares-act-relief-grants/. Decisions and notifications will be made within ten business days of receipt of the application.

AWB Employer Resource Webinar Series

The Association of Washington Businesses (AWB) is hosting an every-Monday Employer Resources Webinar. Topics include “managing a virtual workforce,” “taking your brick and mortar business online” and others. For more information and access to employer FAQ info: https://www.awb.org/1/?cid=741.