Slight dip in Washington unemployment claims in latest weekly report

Initial claims for unemployment compensation in Washington fell slightly last week, according to the latest report from the state Employment Security Department.

During the week of June 20 – June 26, there were 7,505 initial regular unemployment claims (down 0.5 percent from the prior week) and 368,956 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 1.6 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 76 percent below weekly new claims applications during the same period last year during the pandemic.
  • The 4-week moving average for initial claims remains elevated at 7,702 (as compared to the 4-week moving average of initial claims pre-pandemic of 6,071 initial claims). Unemployment initial claims for regular benefits are currently 27 percent higher than their pre-pandemic average.
  • Initial claims applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) increased slightly over the week.
  • Initial claims applications for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and continued/ongoing claims for all benefits decreased over the week.
  • Decreases in layoffs in Retail Trade and Health Care and Social Assistance contributed to the decrease in regular initial claims last week.

In The Seattle Times, Paul Roberts reports,

New jobless claims fell only slightly last week in Washington state and remain at historic high levels — although that trend could change as the state economy fully re-opens this month.

Here’s why the trend most likely will change, again from the Times story.

Economists and business leaders hope jobless claims begin to decline faster in Washington as the state economy continues to reopen and as safety net programs shift toward a post-pandemic status.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee lifted most of the remaining COVID-related restrictions on businesses.

Overall claims are also expected to fall more sharply starting next week as the state re-imposes a requirement that Washingtonians collecting jobless benefits must search for work to keep those benefits coming.