New Unemployment Claims Decrease but Remain at Record Levels

During the week of April 26-May 2, there were 100,762 initial and 1,086,031 total claims for unemployment benefits filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD). ESD paid out over $639 million (a decrease of $347 million from the previous week) to a total of 504,139 individuals (a decrease of 134 from the previous week). Approximately one-third of the $639 million paid out last week were paid with state unemployment trust funds vs two-third from federal funds.

Unemployment claim typeFor week of  April 26-May 2For week of April 19-25
Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims100,762137,605
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims59,234190,948
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims40,267168,165
Continued/ongoing weekly claims885,768959,190
Total claims1,086,0311,455,908

Claims in Mason County followed the statewide trend with 687 new claims last week (4/26/2020 to 5/2/2020); down from 931 the week before (4/19/2020 to 4/25/2020).

Since the week ending March 7 when COVID-19 job losses began:

  • A total of 1,428,775 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (959,196 regular unemployment insurance, 254,197 PUA and 215,382 PEUC)
  • A total of 810,538 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • ESD has paid out nearly $2.14 billion in benefits to Washingtonians
  • 545,178 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

“Since the COVID-19 crisis began in early March, Employment Security has sent $2.14 billion into the pockets of more than half a million Washingtonians,” said Employment Security Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “This makes an enormous difference to those individuals and their families, and we are humbled to be able to provide these services in such a critical time. That said, there are approximately 57,000 who are waiting because there are issues with their claims we are working to resolve. Getting those Washingtonians their benefits is our agency’s top priority. We are doubling down on activities already underway to reach our goal of getting all of those claims in adjudication resolved or paid by June 15. We will be posting more information and details on our progress on our website in the coming days.”

Below is an nine-week summary of statewide initial claims filed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis:

9 week initial claims table April 26-May 2
Initial regular claims 9 week summary chart week of April 26-May 2
Statewide total claims chart week of April 26-May 2

Weekly data breakdown

By industry

Industry sectors experiencing the highest number of initial claims during April 26-May 2 were:

  • Healthcare and social assistance: 10,272 initial claims, down 789 initial claims (7 percent) from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 8,489 initial claims, down 1,908 initial claims (19 percent) from previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 8,435 initial claims, down 1,614 initial claims (16 percent) from previous week
  • Manufacturing: 5,409 initial claims, down 636 initial claims (4 percent) from the previous week
  • Construction: 4,849 initial claims, down 1,198 initial claims (20 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous in the state saw initial claims decrease from 40,088 to 31,550 during the week of April 26-May 2, down 21 percent from the week before.

Other counties with the largest number of initial claims during the week were:

  • Pierce County: Initial claims filed decreased from 16,680 to 12,813 down 23 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial claims filed decreased from 15,122 to 10,864 down 28 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial claims filed decreased from 7,794 to 6,056 down 28 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial claims filed decreased from 6,292 to 4,842 down 23 percent from the week before.

Demographic breakdown – complete charts are provided in Appendix A below (This information is asked during the application process).

During the week of April 26-May 2:

  • By gender: 49.9 percent (48,803) of the initial claims were filed by females while 49.7 percent (48,665) were filed by males
  • By age group: 21.0 percent (20,548) of initial claims were filed by the 25-34 year old age group, followed by 20.3 percent (19,852) by the 35-44 year old age group and 20.2 percent (19,735) by the 45-54 year old age group.
  • By race/ethnicity: 61.7 percent (60,426) of initial claims were filed by Caucasians, followed by 9.8 percent (9,572) filed by Asian Americans and 6.1 percent filed by African Americans (5,987).
  • By disability status: 2.4 percent (2,341) of initial regular claims were from individuals identified as having a disability, including 0.8 percent (747) who identified themselves as disabled veterans.
  • By veterans status: 4.5 percent (4,312) of initial regular claims were filed by veterans, including 441 initial regular claims from individuals eligible for veterans benefits due to family relations with a veteran.

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