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Employment Security Department



Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV

Initial regular claims for unemployment benefits decrease
from the previous week

OLYMPIA – During the week of June 28 through July 4, there were 28,393 initial regular unemployment claims (down 11.0% from the prior week) and 736,151 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 5.7% from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at unprecedented elevated levels and are at 416 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims as well as continued/ongoing claims all increased over the previous week.

ESD paid out over $470.9 million for 404,475 individual claims – a decrease of $33.9 million and 5,177 less individual claims compared to the prior week.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

June 28-July 4

Week of

June 21-June 27

Week of

June 14-June 20

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 2,246,216 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (1,413,078 regular unemployment insurance, 447,232 PUA and 385,906 PEUC)
  • A total of 1,247,284 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • ESD has paid out over $7.2 billion in benefits
  • 883,242 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

“Although the number of initial claims has dropped significantly since the height of the crisis, and even dipped since last week’s figures, our current ‘steady state’ of initial claims is about 89% higher than the peak of the Great Recession,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “We are committed to helping eligible Washingtonians get unemployment benefits as quickly as possible and supporting both workers and employers as they navigate the changing workforce landscape. For those looking to return to work, or who cannot yet return due to the crisis, I encourage you to check out the return to work and refusal of work pages on our website for more information. And 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.”

Below is an eighteen-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 June 28- July 4 were:

  • Accommodation and food services: 3,089 initial regular claims, down 544 (-15 percent) from previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 3,085 initial regular claims, down 460 (-13 percent) from the previous week
  • Manufacturing: 2,622 regular initial claims, down 681 (-21 percent) from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 2,217 initial regular claims, down 540 (-20 percent) from previous week
  • Construction: 2,186 initial regular claims, down 446 (-17 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  3,421 regular initial claims, down 482 (-12 percent) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 3,070 regular initial claims, down 382 (-11 percent) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support:  2,623 regular initial claims, down 468 (-15 percent) from previous week
  • Construction and extraction occupations:  2,567 regular initial claims, down 186 (-7 percent) from the previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations: 1,874 regular initial claims, down 442 (-19 percent) from the previous week
  • Production occupations:  1,803 regular initial claims, down 402 (-18 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous in the state saw initial regular claims decrease from 9,179 to 7,945 during the week of June 28- July 4, down 13 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 3,950 to 3,509 down 11 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 3,911 to 3,262 down 17 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 1,991 to 1,998 up .2 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 1,357 to 1,411 up 4 percent from the week before.

Demographic breakdown – complete charts are provided in Appendix A below (This information is asked during the application process).

During the week of June 28- July 4:

  • By gender: 49.9 percent (14,164) of the initial regular claims were filed by females while 49.7 percent (14,106) were filed by males
  • By age group: 27.5 percent (7,815) of initial regular claims were filed by the 25-34 years old age group, followed by 21.6 percent (6,130) by the 35-44 years old age group and 17.0 percent (4,838) by the 45-54 years old age group.
  • By education level: 29.3 percent (8,311) of initial regular claims were filed by individuals with a high school diploma, included GED, followed by 23.4 percent (6,632) with some college and 16.5% (4,696) with a bachelor’s degree.
  • By race/ethnicity: 60.9 percent (17,280) of initial regular claims were filed by Caucasians, followed by 7.7 percent (2,195) filed by Asians, 6.1 percent filed by Latino/Hispanics (1,735) and 6.0 percent filed by Black/African Americans (1,710).
  • By disability status: 2.9 percent (824) of initial regular claims were from individuals identified as having a disability, including 1.0 percent (271) who identified themselves as disabled veterans.
  • By veteran’s status: 5.3 percent (1,509) of initial regular claims were filed by veterans, including 123 initial regular claims from individuals eligible for veterans benefits due to family relations with a veteran.

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, July 16 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.

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 July 31, 2020. They do not need to file a separate claim to receive this money, it is automatically added to their payment. [NOTE OF CLARIFICATION ADDED ON JULY 13: FPUC is not payable for any week of unemployment ending after July 31, 2020. Since a “week of unemployment” in Washington state ends on any Saturday, the last day to receive FPUC must be on a Saturday prior to the end date in the CARES Act. Accordingly, the last week that FPUC may be paid is the week ending July 25, 2020.]

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 occupation

Initial regular claims by county

Initial regular claims by gender

Initial regular claims by age group

Initial regular claims by race/ethnicity

Initial regular claims by Veteran status

Initial regular claims by disability status

Initial regular claims by education level