12/31/2020

Employment Security Department
#20-077

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Dec. 31, 2020
Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov  

All initial unemployment claims and continued claims increased during the week of December 20 - December 26

OLYMPIA – During the week of December 20-26, there were 19,192 initial regular unemployment claims (up 9.1 percent from the prior week) and 497,370 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 8.4 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 92 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Initial claims for regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and continued/ongoing claims for regular benefits all increased over the week.
  • Seasonal layoffs in construction and agriculture drove an increase in new jobless claims last week. Regular initial claims in the construction sector increased by 692 over the week to 3,329 total regular initial claims, while initial claims in the Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector increased by 286 over the week to 990 initial claims.

In the week ending December 26, ESD paid out over $139.0 million for 286,178 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March, ESD has paid more than $13.2 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

December 20-December 26

Week of

December 13-December 19

Week of

December 6-December 12

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims

19,192

17,596

19,547

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims

3,918

3,711

4,061

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims

14,127

13,435

12,775

Continued/ongoing weekly claims

460,133

424,170

454,878

Total claims

497,370

458,912

491,261

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 a monthly basis. You can find detailed claims data anytime on the ESD website.

Below is a forty-three 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, January 7, 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 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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