The sectors experiencing the most new unemployment claims have shifted during the past month as the coronavirus crisis deepened. The graphic shows the five sectors that remain the hardest hit.

Food assistance needs and restaurants hit hard

The economic crisis in the food system caused by the coronavirus pandemic and stay-home orders shows clearly in two very different indicators — food assistance needs and restaurant sales.

Food assistance applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and State Food Assistance Program for Legal Immigrants (FAP) rose sharply in mid-March from the preceding weeks. And for five straight weeks the numbers were double the previous year’s figures. The number of applications for the most recent week is lower than prior weeks — but it’s still higher than any in this timeframe for either 2019 or 2018.

Restaurant sales in Washington took an accelerating plunge in March as worries grew about catching the coronavirus infection in such public spaces. Many restaurants closed, putting their employees at the front of a burgeoning army of the unemployed. While some restaurants have come up with delivery or curbside pickup systems to keep their kitchens going, the sales data shows that as a group they’re only bringing in one-third of their previous revenue.

Signs of a rebound for weekly Seattle-area home sales activity

Both new listings and new pending sales took a beating as COVID-19 infections spread in Western Washington. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service blocked use of its search tools for open house listings on March 16, a week before Gov. Jay Inslee announced the statewide stay-at-home order barring all “non-essential” business activities.

Restrictions on home-sales activities have been loosened in subsequent weeks, allowing showings by appointment. Still, agreements to buy and new listings remain well below last year’s level heading into the traditionally busy spring home-buying season.

Seattle-area job openings plunge, worse than national average

This is the first in a continuing series of Seattle Times charts that will provide weekly data on how the Seattle-area economy is doing during the coronavirus crisis.


Monday’s data shows how listings for new jobs have changed for Seattle, Washington and the U.S. as a whole.

The takeaway: All three are down by more than one third — with Seattle, which was hit by the coronavirus first, faring slightly worse than the national average.

The data reflects job openings advertised on on successive Fridays. The number of listings is shown as a percentage of the respective numbers on Feb. 1, 2020.

More on the COVID-19 pandemic

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