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Employment Security Department

Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov  

Initial unemployment claims for regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and continued claims decreased during the week of December 13 - December 19 

OLYMPIA – During the week of December 13 – December 19, there were 17,596 initial regular unemployment claims (down 10.0 percent from the prior week) and 458,912 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 6.6 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 99 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications. (17,596 for the current week versus 8,829 for the same week the prior year).  
  • Initial claims for regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and continued/ongoing claims for regular benefits all decreased over the week.
  • Decreases in regular initial claims over the week occurred across most industry sectors with the largest decreases over the week occurring in the Accommodation and food services (-963) and Manufacturing (-312) industry sectors. Increases in regular initial claims occurred in the construction sector (+352) during the week.
  • The increase in initial claims for the PEUC program this week occurred mainly within Extended Benefit initial claims (+2,474 initial claims increase for prior week) while initial claims for PEUC were down 611 initial claims.
  • The 30,708 decrease in continued/ongoing claims for all entitlement programs was primarily due to regular unemployment insurance benefits payments which decreased 19,175 over the week as well as PUA benefit payments which decreased by 13,617. 

In the week ending December 19, ESD paid out over $154 million for 305,547 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March, ESD has paid more than $13.1 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

December 13-December 19

Week of

December 6-December 12

Week of

November 29-December 5

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. 

Note: Detailed claims data and charts by county, industry and occupation will be included in this release on the first Thursday of every month. You can find detailed claims data anytime on the ESD website

Below is a forty-two 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, December 31, 2020 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 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 CARES Act that extends unemployment insurance for an extra 13 weeks to those who have exhausted their benefits.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is an emergency program established by the CARES Act to increase unemployment benefits for Americans who are out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under FPUC, eligible people who collect certain unemployment insurance benefits—including regular unemployment compensation—will get an extra $600 in federal benefits each week through the week ending July 25, 2020. 

Web links

COVID-19 resources

Labor market web links

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