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Employment Security Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 13, 2020 


Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV

All unemployment claims decreased
from the previous week

OLYMPIA – During the week of August 2 through August 8, there were 22,140 initial regular unemployment claims (down 11.4% from the prior week) and 571,410 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 13.0% from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at elevated levels and are at 307 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims as well as continuing claims all decreased over the previous week.

ESD paid out over $273.8 million for 391,025 individual claims – a decrease of $301.3 million and 53,583 less individuals compared to the prior week.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

August 2-August 8

Week of

July 26-August 1

Week of

July 19-July 25

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims




Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims




Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims




Continued/ongoing weekly claims




Total claims




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

  • A total of 2,338,445 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (1,475,571 regular unemployment insurance, 461,251 PUA and 401,251 PEUC)
  • A total of 1,295,080 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • ESD has paid out over $9.5 billion in benefits
  • 996,048 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

Below is a twenty-three-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 August 2- August 8 were:

  • Manufacturing: 2,866 regular initial claims, up 848 (42 percent) from the previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 2,235 initial regular claims, down 628 (-22 percent) from previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 1,922 initial regular claims, down 452 (-19 percent) from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 1,759 initial regular claims, down 290 (-14 percent) from previous week
  • Construction: 1,751 initial regular claims, down 234 (-12 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  2,312 regular initial claims, down 497 (-18 percent) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 2,302 regular initial claims, down 552 (-19 percent) from previous week
  • Construction and extraction occupations:  1,996 regular initial claims, down 316 (-14 percent) from the previous week
  • Office and administrative support:  1,817 regular initial claims, down 382 (-17 percent) from previous week
  • Production occupations:  1,730 regular initial claims, up 229 (+15 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous county in the state, saw initial regular claims decrease from 6,676 to 6,002 during the week of August 2 - August 8, down 10 percent from the week before.

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

  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 2,899 to 3,040 up 5 percent from the week before.
  • Pierce County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 3,127 to 2,771 down 11 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 1,599 to 1,283 down 20 percent from the week before.
  • Yakima County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 1,068 to 1,005 down 6 percent from the week before.


For employers looking to avoid layoffs or slowly ramp up re-hiring during this crisis, SharedWork is a great program that can help. You can learn more at esd.wa.gov/SharedWork


Week of August 2 –

August 8

Week of July 26 – August 1

During height of the recession

Employers with an approved SharedWork plan

3,492 employers covering 154,030 employees

3,451 employers covering 152,668 employees

2,500 employers covering approximately 46,000 employees

Individuals who filed weekly claims for the SharedWork program








Please see new charts in the Appendix A below.  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.

NOTE: ESD will send out the next weekly new claims press release on Thursday, August 20 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 in 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is an emergency program established by the federal CARES Act that extends unemployment insurance for an extra 13 weeks to those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.

COVID-19 resources

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

State of Washington’s coronavirus website

Washington state Department of Health public health resources

Labor market web links

Appendix A

Initial regular claims by industry sector

Initial regular claims by County


Initial regular claims by occupation