Another weekly decline in initial unemployment insurance claims in Washington.

The state Employment Security Department reports initial unemployment insurance claims filings dropped last week.

During the week of January 31-February 6, there were 15,644 initial regular unemployment claims (down 2.8 percent from the prior week) and 489,442 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 1.5 percent 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 140 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Initial regular claims applications, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims and continued claims for regular benefits all decreased over the week.
  • Reductions in layoffs in the accommodation and food services sector drove the overall decrease in regular initial claims last week. Regular initial claims in the accommodation and food services sector decreased by 140 claims over the week to 1,455 total regular initial claims.

Seattle Times business reporter Paul Roberts writes,

New unemployment claims in Washington state fell slightly last week, the fifth decline in five weeks, but the number of people seeking jobless benefits remains well above pre-pandemic levels.  

Washington Research Council economist Kriss Sjoblom has tracked claims filings closely. This chart from his post today shows that, while the trend is improving, claims remain greatly elevated.

Sjoblom writes,

The four-week moving average of regular initial claims is 16,855, down 2,876 from the preceding week. I estimate that the seasonally adjusted 4-week average of regular initial claims was 14,965 down from 17,026 the preceding week.

As the state re-opens, we expect hiring to resume and UI claims to fall.