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Employment Security Department

Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov

Initial regular claims increased slightly while total claims for all benefits decreased during the week of September 19

OLYMPIA – During the week of September 19 to September 25, there were 4,914 initial regular unemployment claims, up 1.3 percent from the prior week. Total claims filed by Washingtonians for all unemployment benefit categories numbered 97,068 down 14.6 percent from the prior week.  

  • Initial regular claims applications are 72 percent below weekly new claims applications for the same period last year during the pandemic.
  • The 4-week moving average for regular initial claims was 4,957, a decrease of 40 from the previous week’s 4-week moving average. During the same time in 2019, it was 5,234.
  • Increases in layoffs in retail trade and accommodation and food services contributed to an increase of 64 regular initial claims over the previous week.
  • Although federal benefit programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) as well as the additional $300 per week for most claimants, expired the week ending Sept. 4, 2021, benefits will continue to be paid after Sept. 4, 2021 for individuals whose claims are pending in adjudication or on appeal if they are determined to be eligible for payment. Learn more at esd.wa.gov/covid-19.

In the week ending September 25, the Employment Security Department (ESD) paid out over $40 million for 42,024 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $21.3 billion in benefits to over 1.2 million Washingtonians.

NOTE: After Oct. 7, ESD will no longer be sending a weekly press release of unemployment data. Information will be available on our website and shared in a release on a monthly basis.

Unemployment claim type

September 19- September 25

September 12- September 18

September 5- September 11

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims




Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims




Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims




Continued or ongoing weekly claims




Total claims




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

Below is a eighty-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, Oct. 7, 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) was an emergency program established by the federal CARES Act that temporarily expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Web links

COVID-19 resources

Labor market web links

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