New unemployment claims filings last week in Washington remain elevated.

The state Employment Security Department reports another week of elevated unemployment insurance claims.

During the week of August 23 through August 29, there were 18,172 initial regular unemployment claims (down 1.2 percent from the prior week) and 560,920 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 1.4 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

Reviewing the data, Washington Research Council economist Kriss Sjoblom writes

ESD reported a total of 28,871 initial claims for unemployment insurance during the August 23–29 week. Of this total, 18,172 initial claims were under the regular unemployment insurance program; 4,590 claims were under the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program, which covers self-employed persons, independent contractors and part-time workers; and 6,109 claims were under the federal pandemic unemployment compensation program, which extends the maximum term of benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.

Here’s the ESD breakdown for recent weeks:

Unemployment claim type

Week of

August 23-August 29

Week of

August 16-August 22

Week of

August 9-August 15

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims




Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims




Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims




Continued/ongoing weekly claims




Total claims




The ESD chart of total claims shows the very slight downward trend in the last several months.

Seattle Times business reporter Paul Roberts writes,

In the latest weekly reminder of the economic damage from the pandemic, Washington workers continued to file for unemployment insurance in historically high numbers.

For the week ending Aug. 29, workers filed 18,172 new, or “initial”, claims for regular unemployment insurance, the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported Thursday. That’s down 1.2% from the prior week, but it’s still nearly four times the number filed the same week in 2019.

The total number of workers who received benefits from Washington state last week was 348,102, which is down 2.4% from the prior week, but still higher than the peak reached by the state during the Great Recession.

The economy continues to struggle.