State: Initial claims for unemployment benefits down from previous week, total claims increase

While the Washington State Employment Security Department on Thursday reported an 11% drop in initial regular unemployment claims during the week of June 28 through July 4, the department notes that initial claim applications remain at unprecedented elevated levels and are at 416% above last year’s weekly new claims applications.

In Snohomish County, the number of initial regular claims filed decreased from 3,911 to 3,262, down 17% from the week before.

The department reported 28,393 initial regular unemployment claims (down 11% from the prior week) and 736,151 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 5.7% from the prior week). In addition, claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation as well as continued/ongoing claims all increased over the previous week.

Initial claims include individuals who filed first-time claims as well as additional claims filed by individuals as a result of a new unemployment event. Continuing claims equal continued weeks claimed including a total of all weeks for which benefits were claimed, even though such benefits were not paid or payment status is uncertain or unknown. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is an emergency program established by the CARES Act that temporarily expands unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. And Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation is an emergency program established by the CARES Act that extends unemployment insurance for an extra 13 weeks to those who have exhausted their benefits.

The Employment Security Department said it paid out over $470.9 million for 404,475 individual claims — a decrease of $33.9 million and 5,177 less individual claims compared to the prior week.

Unemployment claim type Week of

June 28-July 4

Week of

June 21-June 27

Week of

June 14-June 20

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims 28,393 31,911 29,612
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims 10,058 8,997 7,813
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims 10,020 6,884 7,044
Continued/ongoing weekly claims 687,680 648,480 674,146
Total claims 736,151 696,272 718,615

Since the week ending March 7 when COVID-19 job losses began:

  • A total of 2,246,216 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (1,413,078 regular unemployment insurance, 447,232 PUA and 385,906 PEUC)
  • A total of 1,247,284 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • The Employment Security Department has paid out over $7.2 billion in benefits
  • 883,242 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

“Although the number of initial claims has dropped significantly since the height of the crisis, and even dipped since last week’s figures, our current ‘steady state’ of initial claims is about 89% higher than the peak of the Great Recession,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “We are committed to helping eligible Washingtonians get unemployment benefits as quickly as possible and supporting both workers and employers as they navigate the changing workforce landscape.”

Those looking to return to work, or who cannot yet return due to the crisis, are encouraged to check out the return to work and refusal of work pages on the department website for more information. Employers looking to avoid layoffs or slowly ramp up re-hiring may want to consider the SharedWork program — learn more at

Below is an 18-week summary of statewide initial claims filed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis:

Weekly data breakdown

By industry

Industry sectors experiencing the highest number of initial claims during June 28- July 4 were:

  • Accommodation and food services: 3,089 initial regular claims, down 544 (-15%) from previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 3,085 initial regular claims, down 460 (-13%) from the previous week
  • Manufacturing: 2,622 regular initial claims, down 681 (-21%) from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 2,217 initial regular claims, down 540 (-20%) from previous week
  • Construction: 2,186 initial regular claims, down 446 (-17%) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  3,421 regular initial claims, down 482 (-12%) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 3,070 regular initial claims, down 382 (-11%) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support:  2,623 regular initial claims, down 468 (-15%) from previous week
  • Construction and extraction occupations:  2,567 regular initial claims, down 186 (-7%) from the previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations: 1,874 regular initial claims, down 442 (-19%) from the previous week
  • Production occupations:  1,803 regular initial claims, down 402 (-18%) from the previous week

Demographic breakdown

During the week of June 28- July 4:

  • By gender: 49.9% (14,164) of the initial regular claims were filed by females while 49.7% (14,106) were filed by males
  • By age group: 27.5% (7,815) of initial regular claims were filed by the 25-34 years old age group, followed by 21.6% (6,130) by the 35-44 years old age group and 17% (4,838) by the 45-54 years old age group.
  • By education level: 29.3% (8,311) of initial regular claims were filed by individuals with a high school diploma, included GED, followed by 23.4% (6,632) with some college and 16.5% (4,696) with a bachelor’s degree.
  • By race/ethnicity: 60.9% (17,280) of initial regular claims were filed by Caucasians, followed by 7.7% (2,195) filed by Asians, 6.1% filed by Latino/Hispanics (1,735) and 6% filed by Black/African Americans (1,710).
  • By disability status: 2.9% (824) of initial regular claims were from individuals identified as having a disability, including 1% (271) who identified themselves as disabled veterans.
  • By veteran’s status: 5.3% (1,509) of initial regular claims were filed by veterans, including 123 initial regular claims from individuals eligible for veterans benefits due to family relations with a veteran.


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