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OLYMPIA - Saturday night, April 18, the Employment Security Department launched a massive update of its computer systems to allow for the expansion of unemployment benefits enabled by the Federal CARES Act. Tens of thousands of people have already filed successfully, and thousands continue to do so every hour.

Due to this demand, the sign up and online application systems are experiencing performance issues. Since the beginning of the crisis we have averaged 1.2 million page views in our site. Right now, we are seeing up to 500,000 per hour. The informational areas of the website are holding steady and can address questions people may have.

Since Saturday evening, our teams have been triaging and addressing issues as they arise. We are already seeing the rate of people getting through the process go up every hour, as volumes level out and our technical adjustments take effect.

If customers are having difficulty applying or filing weekly claims, here are a few things to remember:

  • You don’t have to apply on Sunday – it is not first-come-first served and there is no risk to funds running out. You can apply anytime.
  • Payments are retroactive to your eligibility date. This means that, once you have successfully applied and backdated your start date, your first payment will be for all weeks for which you are eligible.
  • Weekly claims can be filed Sunday through Saturday every week. They can also be filed over the automated phone system at: 800-318-6022 
  • E-services is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The busiest times tend to be in the morning. We recommend trying during off hours.
  • If you are having difficulty filing your application, please visit our help page https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/help

We apologize for the frustration this is causing and ask for Washingtonians’ patience as we roll out these programs. We know people don’t want to have to wait further to get these benefits and are doing everything we can to improve the performance and access.

The Employment Security Department is the Washington state agency that administers Unemployment Insurance, Paid Family and Medical Leave and a partner in the state WorkSource system. Learn more at ESD.WA.GOV. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook 


Media inquiries: media@ESD.WA.GOV