Unemployment claims rise slightly for third straight week

Initial unemployment claims rose ever-so-slightly in Kitsap County for the third consecutive week during the week ending on June 27, the most recent week for which data is available.

The latest data shows 857 initial claims were filed by the end of the week, still quite high but far off the pace set in late March when there were 4,968 initial claims. Statewide initial claims also rose for a third consecutive week. There were a total of 31,911 initial claims submitted, up 7.8 percent from the prior week — the numbers also represent an increase of 473 percent over the same week in 2019.

There were a total of 696,272 total claims filed, which is actually a decrease of 3.1 percent from the prior week.

But economic anxieties are far from over as a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, with some one-day positive counts near the peak of late March, threatens the reopening of the economy.

The state’s five biggest counties — King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Clark — all saw increases in initial claims as well.

“New unemployment claims, while down significantly from the peak of the crisis, remain at record-high levels,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “This is the second week in a row we’ve seen a slight increase in initial claims, indicating furloughs or layoffs in some sectors like accommodation & food services and retail. ESD is committed to helping eligible Washingtonians get unemployment benefits as quickly as possible and supporting both workers and employers as they navigate the changing workforce landscape. One example of how ESD can help is with the SharedWork program. This is a great option for employers looking to avoid layoffs or slowly ramp up re-hiring during this crisis. And, because it’s fully funded by federal funding as a result of the CARES Act, using it does not impact a business’ experience rating.”

During this pandemic, there have been a total of 2,143,073 initial claims filed — 1,430,721 for regular unemployment insurance, 431,002 for pandemic unemployment assistance and 371,350 for pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.

A total of 1,200,639 distinct residents have filed for benefits and the Employment Security Department has paid out over $6.7 billion in benefits.

The industry sectors with the highest number of initial regular claims for the week ending in June 27 were accommodation and food services (3,633 claims, up 7 percent); health care and social assistance (3,545 claims, up 3 percent); manufacturing (3,303 claims, flat); retail trade (2,757 claims, up 17 percent); and construction (2,632 claims, up 7 percent).