4/16/2020

Initial unemployment insurance claims for week of April 5-11, 2020

Employment Security Department
20-015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 16, 2020

 

CONTACTS

Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV

Initial claims for unemployment benefits drop, but remain at record levels

OLYMPIA – During the week of April 5-11, 143,241 Washingtonians applied for unemployment benefits, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD). While this is a decrease of 26,822 initial claims from the previous week, it’s the third highest weekly number on record and five times more claims than the peak week during the Great Recession.

During the week of April 5-11, ESD also paid out $125.9 million to 265,798 unemployed workers, a $45.6 million increase from the previous week. Since start of COVID-19 job losses, the department has paid out nearly $272 million in benefits to help Washingtonians weather the health and economic crisis.

“We are humbled here at ESD to have been able to provide some relief in the form of unemployment benefits to more than a quarter of a million Washingtonians this past week. And although the number of initial claims has decreased for a second week in a row, we need to continue to exercise caution before identifying this as a trend,” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine.  “As of Monday April 20, the ESD system has been retooled per the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program to accept initial unemployment claims applications from a new wave of individuals such as self-employed workers, gig workers and other workers who are not traditionally eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. As a result, we expect to see a new surge of claims in the coming weeks.”

Below is a six-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 April 5th-April 11th were:

  • Manufacturing: 33,337 initial claims, up 20,364 initial claims from previous week
  • Construction: 17,291 initial claims, down 7,103 initial claims from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 15,911 initial claims, down 4,597 initial claims from previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 12,783 initial claims, down 6,679 initial claims from previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 11,233 initial claims, down 6,784 initial claims from previous week

Industry sectors experiencing the highest percentage increase of initial claims during April 5th-April 11th were:

  • Manufacturing: 33,337 initial claims, up 157 percent from the previous week.
  • Public administration: 1,840 initial claims, up 69 percent from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous in the state, which had experienced a rise in initial claims during the prior three weeks saw initial claims decrease from 47,233 to 39,796 during the week of April 5th-April 11th, down 16 percent from the week before.

Other counties with the largest number of initial claims during the week were:

  • Snohomish County: Initial claims filed increased from 21,148 to 27,780 up 31 percent from the week before.
  • Pierce County: Initial claims filed decreased from 22,379 to 19,377 down 13 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial claims filed decreased from 11,347 to 8,382 down 26 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial claims filed decreased from 9,378 to 5,591 down 40 percent from the week before.

For complete information of weekly initial claims by industry sector and county for the year to date, 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.

NOTE: ESD will send out the next weekly new claims press release on Thursday, April 23 at 10a.m. Pacific Time.

Data disclaimer

"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. Counts are estimated due to the unprecedented volume of claims.

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. 

WorkSource

Employment Security is a proud partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which provides employment and training assistance to job seekers and businesses. While WorkSource centers are closed for in-person services during the COVID-19 outbreak, customers can still get help from WorkSource staff by phone and through the Live Chat feature on WorkSourceWA.com. The website provides access to thousands of Washington jobs and other employment resources. Chat agents cannot answer unemployment benefit questions.

COVID-19 resources

Washington state Employment Security Department unemployment insurance information for workers and employers

Governor’s coronavirus website

Washington state Department of Health public health resources 

Labor market web links