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Employment Security Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 10, 2020


Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV

Initial regular unemployment benefit claims increased while continued claims decreased during week of August 30-September 5

OLYMPIA – During the week of August 30 through September 5, there were 20,006 initial regular unemployment claims (up 10.1 percent from the prior week) and 531,425 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 6.5 percent 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 299 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Regular continuing claims decreased over the previous week while initial claims applications for Regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) all increased over the week.

ESD paid out over $177.7 million for 356,680 individual claims – a decrease of $1.2 million and 609 less individuals compared to the prior week.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

August 30-September 5

Week of

August 23-August 29

Week of

August 16-August 22

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




For more information on current claimants and claims processing progress, please go to the benefits data dashboard on the ESD website.

Below is a twenty-seven-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 30- September 5 were:

  • Educational services: 2,601 initial regular claims, up 932 (+56 percent) from previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 2,005 initial regular claims, up 40 (+2 percent) from previous week
  • Construction: 1,790 initial regular claims, up 160 (+10 percent) from the previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 1,740 initial regular claims, up 63 (+4 percent) from the previous week
  • Manufacturing: 1,681 regular initial claims, up 307 (+22 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  2,265 regular initial claims, up 242 (+12 percent) from the previous week
  • Construction and extraction occupations:  2,077 regular initial claims, up 157 (+8 percent) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 2,072 regular initial claims, down 46 (-2 percent) from previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations:  2,012 regular initial claims, up 462 (+30 percent) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support occupations:  1,687 regular initial claims, up 86 (+5 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous county in the state, saw initial regular claims increase from 4,763 to 5,461 during the week of August 30 – September 5, up 15 percent from the week before.

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

  • Pierce County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 2,443 to 2,509 up 3 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 1,911 to 2,391 up 25 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 1,040 to 1,076 up 3 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 867 to 978 up 13 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 30 –

September 5

Week of August 23 – August 29

During height of the recession

Employers with an approved SharedWork plan

3,601 employers covering 150,673 employees

3,587 employers covering 149,272 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, September 17 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