OLYMPIA – During the week of May 2 – May 8, there were 16,605 initial regular unemployment claims (up 58.0 percent from the prior week) and 436,114 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 7.9 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).

Initial regular claims applications are now 85 percent below weekly new claims applications during the same period last year during the pandemic.

The 4-week moving average for initial claims remain elevated at 12,989 (as compared to the 4-week moving average of initial claims pre-pandemic of 6,071 initial claims) and remains at similar levels of initial claims filed during the Great Recession.

The increase in initial claims for both regular unemployment and from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) program this week are associated with a program change in the existing PEUC application process. Some PEUC applications that were applied incorrectly were adjusted and moved to the correct unemployment claim.

Increases in layoffs in Public Administration, Retail Trade, Health Care and Social assistance and Construction also contributed to the increase in regular initial claims last week.

Initial claims applications for regular benefits, PEUC, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and continued claims for regular benefits all increased over the week.

In the week ending May 8, ESD paid out over $340 million for 306,846 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $17.9 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Note: You can find detailed claims data anytime on the ESD website.

Below is a sixty-two week summary of statewide initial claims filed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis:

For complete information of weekly initial claims by industry sector and county for the year to date, also check the weekly unemployment initial claims charts compiled by ESD’s Labor Market & Economic Analysis division. For more information about specific counties, contact one of ESD’s regional local economists.

ESD will send out the next weekly new claims press release on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.