5/21/2020

Employment Security Department
20-022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 21, 2020

CONTACTS

Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV


Total claims for unemployment benefits
increased almost 28 percent from the previous week

OLYMPIA – During the week of May 10-16, there were 138,733 initial regular unemployment claims (an increase of 29,308 from the previous week) and 1,670,580 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (an increase of 369,016 from the previous week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD). ESD believes some portion of the high numbers from the past week are due to an increase in fraudulent claims and is looking into how best to correct for that in future reporting cycles.

ESD paid out over $1.01 billion (an increase of almost $256 million from the previous week) for 565,764 individual claims (an increase of 28,450 from the previous week).

Unemployment claim type

For week of

May 10-16

For week of

May 3-9

For week of

April 26-May 2

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims

138,733

109,425

100,762

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims

61,325

55,911

59,234

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims

59,630

47,626

40,267

Continued/ongoing weekly claims

1,410,892

1,088,602

885,768

Total claims

1,670,580

1,301,564

1,086,031


Since the week ending March 7 when COVID-19 job losses began:

  • A total of 1,937,576 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (1,222,861 regular unemployment insurance, 381,904 PUA and 332,811 PEUC)
  • A total of 1,106,684 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • ESD has paid out nearly $3.8 billion in benefits
  • 768,217 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

“Since the beginning of this crisis, the Employment Security Department has been laser focused on getting money into the hands of Washingtonians as quickly as possible through our unemployment system and expanding those who are eligible for those benefits,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “We have been very successful in that endeavor, distributing billions of dollars in state and federal funds to more than 3/4 of a million Washingtonians in desperate need of these benefits and being among the first states to implement the provisions of the federal CARES act extending benefits to those previously ineligible. We have also zeroed in on stopping the increase in fraudulent claims we’ve seen in recent weeks. We are working closely with federal law enforcement to stop fraudulent activity, to investigate these crimes and get as much of the stolen money as we can returned to us.”

Below is an eleven-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 May 10-16 were:

  • Educational services: 16,924 initial regular claims, up 6,759 (66 percent) from the previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 15,759 initial regular claims, up 2,419 (18 percent) from previous week
  • Manufacturing: 10,789 initial regular claims, up 2,895 (37 percent) from previous week
  • Retail trade: 10,508 initial regular claims, up 1,543 (17 percent) from the previous week
  • Professional, scientific and technical services: 8,178 regular initial claims, up 1,940 (31 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  69,373 regular initial claims, up 26,176 (60 percent) from the previous week
  • Business and financial operations: 9,330 regular initial claims, up 3,312 (55 percent) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support:  6,268 regular initial claims, down 240 (-4 percent) from previous week
  • Food preparation and serving:  5,664 regular initial claims, down 315 (-5 percent) from the previous week
  • Sales and related occupations:  5,077 regular initial claims, down 616 (-11 percent) from the previous week
  • Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations: 4,299 regular initial claims, up 344 (9 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous in the state saw initial regular claims increase from 37,701 to 47,136 during the week of May 10-16, up 25 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 12,938 to 16,240 up 26 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 11,677 to 15,028 up 29 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 6,594 to 8,762 up 26 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed increased from 4,905 to 5,945 up 21 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 May 3-9:

  • By gender: 53.8 percent (74,570) of the initial regular claims were filed by males while 45.6 percent (63,252) were filed by females
  • By age group: 30.7 percent (42,637) of initial regular claims were filed by the 45-54 year old age group, followed by 22.0 percent (30,546) by the 55-64 year old age group and 21.4 percent (29,735) by the 34-44 year old age group.
  • By race/ethnicity: 68.7 percent (93,236) of initial regular claims were filed by Caucasians, followed by 6.1 percent (8,269) filed by Latino/Hispanics and 3.9 percent filed by Asians (5,184).
  • By disability status: 1.1 percent (1,505) of initial regular claims were from individuals identified as having a disability, including 0.3 percent (456) who identified themselves as disabled veterans.
  • By veterans status: 2.4 percent (3,242) of initial regular claims were filed by veterans, including 542 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, May 28 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.

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 major occupational group

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 Veterans status

Initial regular claims by disability status