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Employment Security Department



Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV

Initial regular unemployment and continued claims decreased during week of September 20 - 26

OLYMPIA – During the week of September 20 through September 26, there were 17,734 initial regular unemployment claims (down 9.4 percent from the prior week) and 530,360 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 1.8 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at elevated levels and are at 237 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Initial claims applications for regular Unemployment Insurance, continued claims for regular Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims all decreased over the week.

ESD paid out over $775 million for 424,789 individual claims – an increase of $629 million and 135,399 more individuals compared to the prior week. More than $625 million of the total was due to the Lost Wages Assistance program payments.

“As we head into autumn, ESD has now paid out more than $11 billion to over one million Washingtonians since the COVID-19 job losses began in March,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “The big jump this week was due to the delivery of benefits for the Lost Wages Assistance program, which provided more than $625 million in much needed funds to individuals and families across the state.”

Unemployment claim type

Week of

September 20-September 26

Week of

September 13-September 19

Week of

September 6-September 12

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




For more information on current claimants and claims processing progress, please go to the benefits data dashboard on the ESD website.

Below is a thirty-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 September 20- September 26 were:

  • Construction: 2,468 initial regular claims, down 398 (-14 percent) from the previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 2,162 initial regular claims, down 90 (-4 percent) from previous week
  • Retail trade: 1,461 regular initial claims, down 32 (-2 percent) from the previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 1,409 initial regular claims, down 233 (-14 percent) from the previous week
  • Manufacturing: 1,231 initial regular claims, down 29 (-2 percent) from previous week

By occupation

  • Construction and extraction occupations:  2,734 regular initial claims, down 402 (-13 percent) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 2,262 regular initial claims, down 105 (-5 percent) from previous week
  • Management occupations:  1,927 regular initial claims, down 177 (-8 percent) from the previous week
  • Office and administrative support occupations:  1,501 regular initial claims, down 59 (-4 percent) from the previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations:  1,338 regular initial claims, down 256 (-16 percent) from previous week

By county

King County, the most populous county in the state, saw initial regular claims decrease from 4,933 to 4,527 during the week of September 20 – September 26, down 8 percent from the week before.

Other counties with the largest number of initial claims during the week were:

  • Pierce County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 2,426 to 2,151 down 11 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 1,986 to 1,881 down 5 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 1,168 to 1,149 down 2 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 1,134 to 1,056 down 7 percent from the week before.


For employers looking to avoid layoffs or slowly ramp up re-hiring during this crisis, SharedWork is a great program that can help. You can learn more at esd.wa.gov/SharedWork


Week of September 20 –

September 26

Week of September 13 – September 19

During height of the recession

Employers with an approved SharedWork plan

3,668 employers covering 154,660 employees

3,665 employers covering 153,165 employees

2,500 employers covering approximately 46,000 employees

Individuals who filed weekly claims for the SharedWork program







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, October 8, 2020 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.

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 County

Initial regular claims by occupation