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Employment Security Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 17, 2020


Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV

Initial regular unemployment and continued claims decreased during week of September 6 - 12

OLYMPIA – During the week of September 6 through September 12, there were 18,403 initial regular unemployment claims (down 8.0 percent from the prior week) and 566,443 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 6.6 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 242 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Initial claims applications for regular Unemployment Insurance decreased over the week while Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims all increased over the week.

ESD paid out over $157.3 million for 340,352 individual claims – a decrease of $19.5 million and 16,349 less individuals compared to the prior week.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

September 6-September 12

Week of

August 30-September 5

Week of

August 23-August 29

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 twenty-eight-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 6- September 12 were:

  • Accommodation and food services: 1,892 initial regular claims, down 113 (-6 percent) from previous week
  • Construction: 1,760 initial regular claims, down 30 (-2 percent) from the previous week
  • Educational services: 1,751 initial regular claims, down 850 (-33 percent) from previous week
  • Health care and social assistance: 1,613 initial regular claims, down 127 (-7 percent) from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 1,533 regular initial claims, up 27 (+2 percent) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Food preparation and serving: 2,026 regular initial claims, down 46 (-2 percent) from previous week
  • Construction and extraction occupations:  2,010 regular initial claims, down 67 (-3 percent) from the previous week
  • Management occupations:  1,980 regular initial claims, down 285 (-13 percent) from the previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations:  1,621 regular initial claims, down 391 (-19 percent) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support occupations:  1,603 regular initial claims, down 84 (-5 percent) from the previous week

By county

King County, the most populous county in the state, saw initial regular claims decrease from 5,461 to 4,987 during the week of September 6 – September 12, down 9 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 2,509 to 2,291 down 9 percent from the week before.
  • Snohomish County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 2,391 to 2,056 down 14 percent from the week before.
  • Spokane County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 1,076 to 1,036 down 14 percent from the week before.
  • Clark County: Initial regular claims filed decreased from 978 to 891 down 9 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 6 –

September 12

Week of August 30 – September 5

During height of the recession

Employers with an approved SharedWork plan

3,631 employers covering 151,908 employees

3,601 employers covering 150,673 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, September 24 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