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Employment Security Department

Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov

Initial and continued claims for regular benefits increased during the week of May 2 –May 8

OLYMPIA – During the week of May 2 – May 8, there were 16,605 initial regular unemployment claims (up 58.0 percent from the prior week) and 436,114 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 7.9 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 85 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 12,989 (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.
  • The increase in initial claims for both regular unemployment and from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) program this week are associated with a program change in the existing PEUC application process. Some PEUC applications that were applied incorrectly were adjusted and moved to the correct unemployment claim.
  • Increases in layoffs in Public Administration, Retail Trade, Health Care and Social assistance and Construction also contributed to the increase in regular initial claims last week.
  • Initial claims applications for regular benefits, PEUC, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and continued claims for regular benefits all increased over the week.

In the week ending May 8, ESD paid out over $340 million for 306,846 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $17.9 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

May 2- May 8

Week of

April 25- May 1

Week of

April 18- April 24

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: You can find detailed claims data anytime on the ESD website.

Below is a sixty-two 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, May 20, 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

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