Washington sees 2.2% dip in last week’s initial unemployment insurance claims; total claims remain highly elevated and up slightly.

The state Employment Security Department reports a slight dip in UI claims filed last week.

During the week of January 24-30, there were 16,102 initial regular unemployment claims (down 2.2 percent from the prior week) and 489,741 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 1.6 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at elevated levels and are at 147 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Initial claims for regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) all decreased over the week.
  • Reductions in layoffs in accommodation and food services drove a decrease in new regular jobless claims last week. Regular initial claims in the accommodation and food services sector decreased by 219 claims over the week to 1,595 total regular initial claims.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) claims accounted for the increase in continued claims over the week.  Pandemic Unemployment Compensation claims increased across all industry sectors over the week, with Accommodation and Food services (+5,944) and Construction (+2,518) sectors experiencing the largest increases. 

In The Seattle Times, Paul Roberts reports,

Although the job market has improved dramatically since the first pandemic-related layoffs last spring, “we are [still] seeing comparable new and continued claims activity to what we observed during the peak months of the Great Recession,” said Anneliese Vance-Sherman, an ESD regional economist who covers the Seattle area. The steady and elevated number of claims suggests that the labor market “remains fragile as a whole but isn’t experiencing any severe and acute shocks,” Vance-Sherman added.

Again, progress, but slow.