5/27/2021

Employment Security Department
#21-032

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 27, 2021
Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov

Initial and continued claims for regular benefits decreased during the week of May 16 – May 22

OLYMPIA – During the week of May 16 – May 22, there were 11,666 initial regular unemployment claims (down 40.5 percent from the prior week) and 416,462 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 11.2 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 76 percent below weekly new claims applications during the same period last year during the pandemic.
  • The 4-week moving average for initial claims remain elevated at 14,599 (as compared to the 4-week moving average of initial claims pre-pandemic of 6,071 initial claims) and remains at similar levels of initial claims filed during the Great Recession.
  • Initial claims applications for regular benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) as well as continued claims for regular benefits all decreased over the week.
  • Decreases in layoffs in Health Care and Social Assistance, Retail Trade, and Construction contributed to the decrease in regular initial claims last week.

In the week ending May 22, ESD paid out over $233 million for 292,823 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $18.4 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

May 16- May 22

Week of

May 9- May 15

Week of

May 2- May 8

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims

11,666

19,619

16,605

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims

1,778

2,290

2,485

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims

2,493

3,337

7,603

Continued/ongoing weekly claims

400,525

443,852

409,421

Total claims

416,462

469,098

436,114

 Below is a sixty-four week summary of statewide initial claims filed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis:  Note: You can find detailed claims data anytime on the ESD website.

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, June 3, 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 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.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is an emergency program established by the federal CARES Act that extends unemployment insurance for those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.

Web links

COVID-19 resources

Labor market web links

Find a regional economist


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