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Employment Security Department

Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov

Initial and continued claims for regular benefits decreased during the week of May 23 – May 29

OLYMPIA – During the week of May 23 – May 29, there were 10,085 initial regular unemployment claims (down 13.6 percent from the prior week) and 381,640 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 8.4 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 68 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 14,494 (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 Educational Services, Retail trade and Health Care and Social Assistance contributed to the decrease in regular initial claims last week.

In the week ending May 29, ESD paid out over $233 million for 290,166 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $18.6 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

May 23- May 29

Week of

May 16- May 22

Week of

May 9- May 15

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





Below is a sixty-five 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 10, 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

2021 ESD all-virtual Economic Symposium
A Post-Pandemic Roadmap to
Economic Recovery

Join experts and colleagues from across the state on June 15/16 at ESD’s Economic Symposium to find out the latest on the post-pandemic economic recovery topics that everyone is talking about! Even if you're busy on those days, register for this all-virtual event and you’ll be able to access all content until Dec. 31, 2021. Check out the Economic Symposium website to learn more and register.