ESD reports another small drop in initial unemployment claims in Kitsap

Initial unemployment claims in Kitsap County continued to decline for a third consecutive week during the week ending Aug. 1, mirroring a larger 13 percent drop statewide.

Kitsap County saw 682 initial claims that week, the most recent for which data is available. That number is down from 793 the previous week and the small spike of 1,139 three weeks ago.

Washington state had 24,985 initial claims in the week ending Aug. 1, down 13.4 percent from the week prior, and 656,556 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories, which is down 3.1 percent from the previous week. However, despite the positive trend, the number of initial claims is still 346 percent higher than the same week in 2019.

The state’s five largest counties — King, Snohomish, Pierce, Clark and Spokane — all saw double digit declines in initial claims to drive the statewide drop.

Since the week ending March 7, when job losses began in earnest due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Employment Security Department has paid out $9.2 billion in benefits and 985,689 individuals who filed an initial claim have been paid. Congress has yet to make a decision on the $600 per week Americans were receiving as part of the federal CARES Act.

A total of 2,333,456 initials claims filed during this pandemic, including 1,287,949 distinct individuals.

Last week, ESD officials announced that the backlog of claims filed before mid-June had been cleared, some individuals who filed claims later in the pandemic are still waiting for resolution.

“Getting benefits to all eligible Washingtonians has been, and continues to be, our agency’s top priority,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “As we turn the page on Operation 100 percent, more than 81,500 individuals who had applied by mid-June and not received payment now have resolution on their claims. You can see this reflected in this week’s data, as claims went down but dollars out went up. While clearing this initial backlog represents significant progress, and more than 980,000 individuals have received benefits since the crisis began, we know we still have a lot more work to do and a lot of trust to be regained as we move into the next phase of our response.”

The industry sectors with the highest number of initial claims during the week ending Aug. 1 were accommodation and food services (2,863 claims, down 9 percent); health care and social assistance (2,374 claims, down 5 percent); retail trade (2,049, down 10 percent); manufacturing (2,048 claims, down 2 percent); and construction (1,985 claims, down 11 percent).

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