Unemployment rate surges in Washington state

A record number of people in Washington state were applying for unemployment last month and Whatcom County was a part of that surge.

Whatcom County's unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in December, up from 5.6 percent in November, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department. December's rate was the highest in Whatcom County since March 2004.

It was worse across much of the rest of the state, as unemployment rose to 7.1 percent, up from 6.3 percent in November. It was the largest monthly increase since 1976.

"In barely a year, we've gone from historically low unemployment to record numbers of people applying for unemployment benefits," said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee in a press release, referring to the record-setting 90,331 new unemployment applications filed in December.

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