The state Employment Security Department reports initial regular UI claims and continuing claims both dropped last week.
During the week of August 15 to 21, there were 5,357 initial regular unemployment claims, down 3.1 percent from the prior week. Total claims filed by Washingtonians for all unemployment benefit categories numbered 275,558, down 3.5 percent from the prior week.
- Initial regular claims applications are 71 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 5,306, an increase of 201 from the previous week’s 4-week moving average. During the same time in 2019, it was 5,194.
- Decreases in layoffs in agriculture and construction contributed to a decrease of 171 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, are set to expire the week ending Sept. 4, 2021.
More here from the Washington Research Council.
The Seattle Times reports that the progress of the pandemic raises risks to the employment recovery.
New unemployment claims in Washington dipped slightly last week as a rebounding state economy continued to add more jobs.
But that encouraging news comes with a warning from the state’s economist: Thanks to surging COVID-19 cases, the state could see renewed layoffs and a slowdown in recent hiring.
“I’m not expecting a dramatic change, but one that could slow down the pace of job growth from where the state was the last two months,” said Paul Turek, ESD’s state economist.
Indeed, although initial claims remain dramatically lower than during the early months of the pandemic, their numbers have crept back up in recent weeks. The 4-week moving average for regular initial claims last week was 5,306, which was up nearly 4% from a week earlier and is 2.1% higher than it was at the same period in 2019, ESD reported.
Turek said those trends might increase moderately if rising case counts result in renewed business restrictions and consumer anxieties that affect hiring. Already, some big employers have delayed plans to bring remote workers back to the office.
“This might, in turn, affect restaurants who might be relying on these workers who would go out to lunch,” Turek said. “There might be less business meetings and travel which could affect the transportation industry.”
“Consumers might also become more reluctant to travel and eat out and delay vacation plans, thereby affecting leisure and hospitality again,” Turek added
Sadly, we agree.