Initial and continued unemployment claims for regular benefits decreased during the week of March 14 – March 20

OLYMPIA – During the week of March 14 – March 20, there were 11,398 initial regular unemployment claims (down 2.6 percent from the prior week) and 435,675 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 3.1 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications are now 91 percent below weekly new claims applications during the same period last year at the start of the pandemic.
  • Initial claims remain elevated (as compared to the 4-week moving average of initial claims pre-pandemic of 6,071 initial claims) and remain at similar levels of initial claims filed during the Great Recession.
  • Decreases in layoffs in Retail trade, Manufacturing and Construction led the overall decrease in regular initial claims last week.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims increased slightly over the week.

In the week ending March 20, ESD paid out over $249.6 million for 307,364 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March 2020, ESD has paid more than $16.0 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim typeWeek ofMarch 14- March 20Week ofMarch 7- March 13Week ofFebruary 28- March 6
Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims11,39811,69911,760
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims3,3833,0412,354
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims3,8734,2303,700
Continued/ongoing weekly claims417,021430,868435,659
Total claims435,675449,838453,503

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

Below is a fifty-fIve week summary of statewide initial claims filed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis:

week 55 claims table March 14 - 20
statewide total claims line chart march 14-20

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, April 1, 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.

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