Unemployment claims continue to decline statewide

Both the initial and total unemployment claims continued its fall during the week of May 24 to May 30, the most recent week that has data available.

Although numbers remain significantly higher compared to the same week in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, claims have been nearly cut in half from the prior two weeks, according to officials at the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Numbers available from the ESD show a total of 774,959 claims filed, down from 1,670,580 during the week of May 10 to 16. The number of initial claims fell as well to 31,224.

Kitsap County saw other precipitous drops in initial claims down to 940 from the 1,398 reported the prior week. Some of the state’s largest counties — Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Clark — also saw nearly 40 percent decreases in the number of initial claims filed.

“Our priorities from day one of this crisis have been to get benefits out to Washingtonians who need them quickly and expand eligibility so those impacted can get the help they need, and we are continuing to ramp up our staffing to work through the large numbers of applicants and adjudications,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzy Levine. “We know every day matters for people awaiting their benefits. We are committed to processing those claims as quickly as possible.”

Since the week ending March 7, which is when COVID-19 job losses began, over 2 million initial claims have been filed. 1,280,711 regular unemployment insurance claims were filed, 409,566 were Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims and 355,253 were Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensations claims.

Washington ESD has paid out over $4.9 billion in benefits since the pandemic began.

The industries with the high number of claims this week were health care and social assistance (3,614 initial claims); accommodation and food services (3,065 initial claims) retail trade (1,410 initial claims); construction (2,437 initial claims); and manufacturing (2,288 initial claims).

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