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Employment Security Department

Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov

Initial regular claims increased the week of August 1, total claims continue to decrease

OLYMPIA – During the week of August 1 to 7, there were 5,420 initial regular unemployment claims, up 10.2 percent from the prior week. Total claims filed by Washingtonians for all unemployment benefit categories numbered 306,858, down 0.5 percent from the prior week.  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 75 percent below weekly new claims applications for the same period last year during the pandemic.
  • The 4-week moving average for initial claims is 4,989. During the same time in 2019, it was 5,266. This is the lowest level of initial claims for regular benefits since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and the ninth consecutive week the four-week moving average for initial claims has reached a new pandemic low.
  • Layoffs in health care and social assistance and construction contributed to an increase of 501 regular initial claims over the previous week.
  • There was a decrease in the combined total of initial claims and continued or ongoing claims for all benefits—which include regular unemployment insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
  • Federal pandemic benefits programs, including PUA and PEUC as well as the additional $300 per week, are set to expire the week ending Sept. 4, 2021. Learn more at esd.wa.gov/covid-19.

In the week ending August 7, ESD paid out over $186 million for 227,689 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $20.6 billion in benefits to over 1.1 million Washingtonians.


Unemployment claim type

August 1–7

July 25–31

July 18–24

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims




Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims




Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims




Continued or ongoing weekly claims




Total claims




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

Below is a seventy-five 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, Aug. 19, 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