Slight increase in unemployment claims filing in Washington last week

The state Employment Security Department reports claims filings were up last week.

During the week of March 21 – March 27, there were 11,445 initial regular unemployment claims (up 0.5 percent from the prior week) and 430,077 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 1.3 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 94 percent below weekly new claims applications during the same period last year at the start of the pandemic.
  • Initial claims remain elevated (as compared to the 4-week moving average of initial claims pre-pandemic of 6,071 initial claims) and remain at similar levels of initial claims filed during the Great Recession.
  • Slight increases in layoffs in Construction and the Educational Services sector led to a marginal increase in regular initial claims last week.
  • Initial claims applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) decreased over the week.

The Seattle Times reports.

Jobless claims were especially heavy in the construction sector, which saw 1,846 new claims last week, and restaurants and hotels, with 1,088.

Despite strong job growth in February, the state’s job market remains well behind its pre-pandemic levels. In February, the state’s total labor force stood at 3,837,400, or 124,600 fewer than in February 2020, the ESD reported last week.

But the week brought encouraging economic news, too. Amazon announced plans this week to “return to an office-centric culture” — and said that most of its working-from-home workforce would come back to the office by the fall. 

Amazon’s decision, which contrasts with hybrid workplace plans of some other tech firms with Seattle-area operations, buoyed businesses and business leaders in urban cores like downtown Seattle, where commercial activity fell dramatically when office workers were sent home. 

More here from the Washington Research Council.