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Employment Security Department

Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov  

Initial regular unemployment claims decreased while continued claims increased during week of January 24-30

OLYMPIA – During the week of January 24-30, there were 16,102 initial regular unemployment claims (down 2.2 percent from the prior week) and 489,741 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 1.6 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 147 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Initial claims for regular unemployment, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) all decreased over the week.
  • Reductions in layoffs in accommodation and food services drove a decrease in new regular jobless claims last week. Regular initial claims in the accommodation and food services sector decreased by 219 claims over the week to 1,595 total regular initial claims.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) claims accounted for the increase in continued claims over the week.  Pandemic Unemployment Compensation claims increased across all industry sectors over the week, with Accommodation and Food services (+5,944) and Construction (+2,518) sectors experiencing the largest increases.    

In the week ending January 30, ESD paid out over $268 million for 314,546 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March, ESD has paid more than $14.3 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

January 24- January 30

Week of

January 17- January 23

Week of

January 10- January 16

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




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-eight 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 January 24-30th were:

  • Construction: 2,394 initial regular claims, down 104 (-5 percent) from the previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 1,595 initial regular claims, down 219 (-12 percent) from previous week
  • Retail trade: 1,583 regular initial claims, up 81 (5 percent) from the previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 1,339 initial regular claims, up 16 (1 percent) from the previous week
  • Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services: 1,131 initial regular claims, up 79 (8 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Construction and extraction occupations:  2,543 regular initial claims, up 63 (3 percent) from the previous week
  • Management occupations:  1,736 regular initial claims, down 91 (-5 percent) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 1,614 regular initial claims, down 201 (-11 percent) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support occupations:  1,339 regular initial claims, down 47 (-3 percent) from the previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations:  1,318 regular initial claims, up 20 (2 percent) from previous week

By county

King County, the most populous county in the state, saw initial regular claims decrease from 4,019 to 3,790 during the week of January 24-30, down 6 percent from the week before.

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

  • Pierce County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 2,088 to 2,025 down 3 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 1,698 to 1,703 up .3 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 1,135 to 1,088 down 4 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 745 to 770 up 3 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

January 24–

January 30

Week of

January 17 – January 23

During height of the recession

Employers with an approved SharedWork plan

3,783 employers covering 98,566 employees

3,774 employers covering 98,493 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.

ESD will send out the next weekly new claims press release on Thursday, February 11, 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


Initial regular claims by industry

Initial regular claims by County

Initial regular claims by major occupation group