Nearly 15,000 initial unemployment claims filed in Washington last week. $12 billion in benefits paid out during pandemic.

The state Employment Security Department reports the state has paid out more than $12 billion in UI claims since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Since the crisis began in March, ESD has paid more than $12.1 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

In the same weekly update, ESD reports a slight increase in regular initial claims, indicating the crisis has yet to abate.

During the week of October 25 – 31, there were 14,681 initial regular unemployment claims (up 3.4 percent from the prior week) and 465,563 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 2.1 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 113 percent above last year’s weekly new 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.
  • Initial claims increased in industries primarily where seasonal layoffs are expected this time of year, including agriculture and construction.

Washington Research Council economist Kriss Sjoblom has been tracking the claims data. He writes (the graph is his),

We estimate that the seasonally adjusted 4-week average of regular initial claims was 20,010, down from 21,031 (revised) the preceding week. Seasonally adjusted regular claims remain above the peak reached during the Great Recession.

Challenging times continue.