5/6/2021

Employment Security Department
#21-027

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 6, 2021
Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov

Initial and continued claims for regular benefits decreased during the week of April 25 – May 1

OLYMPIA – During the week of April 25 – May 1, there were 10,507 initial regular unemployment claims (down 9.6 percent from the prior week) and 404,257 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 0.9 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 90 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 13,158 (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.
  • Decreases in layoffs in Retail Trade and Educational Services contributed to the decrease in regular initial claims last week.
  • Initial claims applications for regular benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) and continued claims for regular benefits all decreased over the week while initial claims applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) increased slightly over the week.

In the week ending May 1, ESD paid out over $230 million for 309,168 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $17.5 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

April 25- May 1

Week of

April 18- April 24

Week of

April 11- April 17

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims

10,507

11,629

13,216

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims

1,855

1,822

1,884

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims

2,262

2,339

2,565

Continued/ongoing weekly claims

389,633

392,211

396,749

Total claims

404,257

408,001

414,414

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

Below is a sixty-one 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 13, 2021 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

Data disclaimer and definitions

Per U.S. Department of Labor regulations, weekly unemployment claims data is embargoed and not available for release until the Thursday following the claim 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. Initial claims include claims that are still being reviewed for eligibility. Counts for initial claims are not indicative of the number of claims that will result in monetary compensation.

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, e.g., waiting weeks, partial weeks, weeks for which penalties are being served and weeks for which a monetary or nonmonetary issue is pending. 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is an emergency program established by the federal CARES Act that temporarily expands unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is an emergency program established by the federal CARES Act that extends unemployment insurance for those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.

Web links

COVID-19 resources

Labor market web links

Find a regional economist