Another drop in weekly UI claims in Washington

The state Employment Security Department reports another decline in initial regular unemployment claims.

During the week of August 2 through August 8, there were 22,140 initial regular unemployment claims (down 11.4% from the prior week) and 571,410 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 13.0% from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at elevated levels and are at 307 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims as well as continuing claims all decreased over the previous week.

Seattle Times business reporter Paul Roberts looks at the numbers and wonders if we’re seeing a plateau.

For the third week running, Washington state saw fewer new claims for unemployment insurance — another sign, perhaps, that the state’s job market may be stabilizing after months of pandemic. 

But with Washingtonians still filing more weekly unemployment claims than they were during the Great Recession — and with job seekers still outnumbering job openings three to one — Washington could also be settling in for a long, very slow slog back a pre-COVID-19 “normal.” 

Noting that prospects for the “V-shaped” recovery seem to have ebbed, he writes that the long slog scenario has gained currency.

But it’s a forecast that has become increasingly common among economists and it could already be playing out in Washington, said Jacob Vigdor, an economist at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rapid recovery [in May and June] transition into the plateau phase as summer transitions to fall,” he said. 

His report lays out several options. It’s worth your time.