Unemployment Claims Increased almost 28%

During the week of May 10-16, there were 138,733 initial regular unemployment claims (an increase of 29,308 from the previous week) and 1,670,580 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (an increase of 369,016 from the previous week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD). ESD believes some portion of the high numbers from the past week are due to an increase in fraudulent claims and is looking into how best to correct for that in future reporting cycles.

ESD paid out over $1.01 billion (an increase of almost $256 million from the previous week) for 565,764 individual claims (an increase of 28,450 from the previous week).

Unemployment claim typeWeek of May 10-16Week of May 3-9Week of April 26-May 2
Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims138,733109,425100,762
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims61,32555,91159,234
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims59,63047,62640,267
Continued/ongoing weekly claims1,410,8921,088,602885,768
Total claims1,670,5801,301,5641,086,031

In Mason County, there were 828 new unemployment claims last week (5/10/2020 to 5/16/2020). Up from 736 the week before (5/3/2020 to 5/9/2020).

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

  • A total of 1,937,576 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (1,222,861 regular unemployment insurance, 381,904 PUA and 332,811 PEUC)
  • A total of 1,106,684 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • ESD has paid out nearly $3.8 billion in benefits to Washingtonians
  • 768,217 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

“Since the beginning of this crisis, the Employment Security Department has been laser focused on getting money into the hands of Washingtonians as quickly as possible through our unemployment system and expanding those who are eligible for those benefits,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “We have been very successful in that endeavor, distributing billions of dollars in state and federal funds to more than 3/4 of a million Washingtonians in desperate need of these benefits and being among the first states to implement the provisions of the federal CARES act extending benefits to those previously ineligible. We have also zeroed in on stopping the increase in fraudulent claims we’ve seen in recent weeks. We are working closely with federal law enforcement to stop fraudulent activity, to investigate these crimes and get as much of the stolen money as we can returned to us.”

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

11 week claims table May 10-16
11 week initial regular clais line chart May 10-16
Total claims line chart May 10-16

Weekly data breakdown

By industryIndustry sectors experiencing the highest number of initial claims during May 10-16 were:

  • Educational services: 16,924 initial regular claims, up 6,759 (66 percent) from the previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 15,759 initial regular claims, up 2,419 (18 percent) from previous week
  • Manufacturing: 10,789 initial regular claims, up 2,895 (37 percent) from previous week
  • Retail trade: 10,508 initial regular claims, up 1,543 (17 percent) from the previous week
  • Professional, scientific and technical services: 8,178 regular initial claims, up 1,940 (31 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  69,373 regular initial claims, up 26,176 (60 percent) from the previous week
  • Business and financial operations: 9,330 regular initial claims, up 3,312 (55 percent) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support:  6,268 regular initial claims, down 240 (-4 percent) from previous week
  • Food preparation and serving:  5,664 regular initial claims, down 315 (-5 percent) from the previous week
  • Sales and related occupations:  5,077 regular initial claims, down 616 (-11 percent) from the previous week
  • Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations: 4,299 regular initial claims, up 344 (9 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous in the state saw initial regular claims increase from 37,701 to 47,136 during the week of May 10-16, up 25 percent from the week before.

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

  • Pierce County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 12,938 to 16,240 up 26 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 11,677 to 15,028 up 29 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 6,594 to 8,762 up 26 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 4,905 to 5,945 up 21 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 May 3-9:

  • By gender: 53.8 percent (74,570) of the initial regular claims were filed by males while 45.6 percent (63,252) were filed by females
  • By age group: 30.7 percent (42,637) of initial regular claims were filed by the 45-54 year old age group, followed by 22.0 percent (30,546) by the 55-64 year old age group and 21.4 percent (29,735) by the 34-44 year old age group.
  • By race/ethnicity: 68.7 percent (93,236) of initial regular claims were filed by Caucasians, followed by 6.1 percent (8,269) filed by Latino/Hispanics and 3.9 percent filed by Asians (5,184).
  • By disability status: 1.1 percent (1,505) of initial regular claims were from individuals identified as having a disability, including 0.3 percent (456) who identified themselves as disabled veterans.
  • By veterans status: 2.4 percent (3,242) of initial regular claims were filed by veterans, including 542 initial regular claims from individuals eligible for veterans benefits due to family relations with a veteran