State reports 6.6% drop in weekly initial unemployment claims.

As we mentioned earlier, weekly fluctuations in unemployment claims are to be expected. We’re nonetheless encouraged by the 6.6% drop in initial claims reported today by the state Employment Security Department.

During the week of Sept. 5, there were 4,860 initial regular unemployment claims, down 6.6 percent from the prior week. Total claims filed by Washingtonians for all unemployment benefit categories numbered 245,345, down 4.8 percent from the prior week.  

  • Initial regular claims applications are 74 percent below weekly new claims applications for the same period last year during the pandemic.
  • The 4-week moving average for regular initial claims was 5,124, a decrease of 167 from the previous week’s 4-week moving average. During the same time in 2019, it was 5,012.
  • Decreases in layoffs in construction and health care & social assistance contributed to a decrease of 345 regular initial claims over the previous week.
  • There was a decrease in the combined total of initial claims and continued or ongoing claims for all benefits—which include regular unemployment insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
  • Federal pandemic benefits programs, including PUA and PEUC as well as the additional $300 per week, expired the week ending Sept. 4, 2021.

In The Seattle Times, Paul Roberts reports,

New unemployment claims in Washington fell last week even as the summer’s hiring surge appeared to be tapering….

In Washington, the job market appeared to be cooling slightly after two months of strong hiring.

In August, the state added 16,800 jobs, compared to 24,300 jobs in July and 25,600 in June, the Employment Security Department reported Wednesday. The slowdown in August came as Washington saw a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases.

And, of course, this.

Since March 2020, nearly 1.2 million Washingtonians have received more than $21.3 billion in jobless benefits, with about three-quarters of the money coming from the federal government.

By comparison, in each of the previous 10 years, the Employment Security Department’s annual payout averaged just more than $1 billion, according to the department.

With the expiration of federal pandemic programs, however, total weekly benefit payments will fall substantially.