Claims for Unemployment Continue to Decrease

During the week of May 24-30, there were 31,224 initial regular unemployment claims (down 36% from the prior week) and 774,959 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (a decrease of 155,423) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  ESD believes the continued decrease is due to a variety of reasons including fraud prevention measures and more people going back to work with the reopening of some industry sectors and regions over the past three weeks.

In Mason County, there were 216 new claims for unemployment last week (May 24 to May 30), down from 326 the week before (May 17 to May 23).

ESD paid out over $514.7 million for 400,352 individual claims.

Unemployment claim typeWeek of May 24-30Week of May 17-23Week of May 10-16
Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims31,22448,445138,733
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims12,87821,25061,325
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims10,17619,11159,630
Continued/ongoing weekly claims720,681841,5761,410,892
Total claims774,959930,3821,670,580

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

  • A total of 2,045,863 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (1,280,711 regular unemployment insurance, 409,566 PUA and 355,523 PEUC)
  • A total of 1,152,516 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • ESD has paid out over $4.9 billion in benefits
  • 826,123 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

“The dramatic decline in initial claims this week is a strong signal that the additional steps we are taking to address imposter fraud are working. We’ve already recovered and stopped the payments of hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims in the past two weeks, and we will continue to reclaim every dollar we can,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. ”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. We know every day matters for people awaiting their benefits. We are committed to processing those claims as quickly as possible.”

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

13 week claims table May 24-30
13 week summary line chart May 24-30
Total state claims line chart May 24030

Weekly data breakdown

By industryIndustry sectors experiencing the highest number of initial claims during May 24-30 were:

  • Health care and social assistance: 3,614 initial regular claims, down 1,699 (32 percent) from the previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 3,065 initial regular claims, down 700 (19 percent) from previous week
  • Retail trade: 2,826 initial regular claims, down 1,410 (33 percent) from previous week
  • Construction: 2,437 initial regular claims, down 574 (19 percent) from the previous week
  • Manufacturing: 2,288 regular initial claims, down 1,373 (38 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  4,383 regular initial claims, down 7,115 (62 percent) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 3,169 regular initial claims, down 585 (16 percent) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support:  2,804 regular initial claims, down 885 (24 percent) from previous week
  • Construction and extraction occupations:  2,783 regular initial claims, down 459 (14 percent) from the previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations: 2,343 regular initial claims, down 556 (19 percent) from the previous week
  • Sales and related occupations:  2,285 regular initial claims, down 1,027 (31 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous in the state saw initial regular claims decrease from 14,371 to 8,974 during the week of May 24-30, down 38 percent from the week before.

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

  • Pierce County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 6,348 to 4,069 down 36 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 5,675 to 3,580 down 37 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 2,932 to 1,973 down 39 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 2,182 to 1,385 down 37 percent from the week before.