Total claims for state unemployment benefits decrease from the previous week

During the week of May 17-23, there were 48,445 initial regular unemployment claims, down 65% from the prior week and 1,497,591 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department.

ESD said it believes the decrease was in large part due to significant fraud prevention measures that were put in place over the past two weeks.

ESD paid out over $494.5 million for 424,995 individual claims.

Unemployment claim type Week of

May 17-23

Week of

May 10-16

Week of

May 3-9

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims 48,445 138,733 109,425
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims 21,250 61,325 55,911
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims 19,111 59,630 47,626
Continued/ongoing weekly claims 1,408,785 1,410,892 1,088,602
Total claims 1,497,591 1,670,580 1,301,564

Since the week ending March 7 when COVID-19 job losses began:

  • A total of 1,996,257 initial claims have been filed during the pandemic (1,252,608 regular unemployment insurance, 397,845 PUA and 345,804 PEUC)
  • A total of 1,130,519 distinct individuals have filed for unemployment benefits
  • ESD has paid out nearly $4.7 billion in benefits
  • 807,071 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid

In Snohomish County, initial regular claims filed decreased from 15,028 to 5,675 down 62 percent from the week before.

“Our priorities from day one of this crisis have been to get benefits out to Washingtonians who need them quickly and expand eligibility so those impacted can get the help they need,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “In recent weeks, at the same time we have taken aggressive measures to tackle the increase of imposter fraud in our system, we have stayed laser-focused on helping every Washingtonian with a valid claim get the benefits they deserve. Meanwhile, our team continues to work with federal law enforcement to go after the criminals perpetrating the fraud, help the victims and recoup the money.

“The dramatic decline in initial claims this week is a strong signal that the additional steps we are taking to address imposter fraud are working. We’ve already recovered and stopped the payments of hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims in the past two weeks, and we will continue to reclaim every dollar we can.”

Below is a 12-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 May 17-23 were:

  • Health care and social assistance: 5,313 initial regular claims, down 10,446 (66%) from the previous week
  • Retail trade: 4,236 initial regular claims, down 6,272 (60%) from previous week
  • Accommodation and food services: 3,765 initial regular claims, down 2,403 (39%) from previous week
  • Manufacturing: 3,661 initial regular claims, down 7,128 (66%) from the previous week
  • Educational services: 3,109 regular initial claims, down 13,815 (82%) from the previous week

By occupation

  • Management occupations:  11,498 regular initial claims, down 57,875 (83%) from the previous week
  • Food preparation and serving: 3,754 regular initial claims, down 1,910 (34%) from previous week
  • Office and administrative support:  3,689 regular initial claims, down 2,579 (41%) from previous week
  • Sales and related occupations:  3,312 regular initial claims, down 1,765 (35%) from the previous week
  • Construction and extraction occupations:  3,242 regular initial claims, down 607 (16%) from the previous week
  • Transportation and material moving occupations: 2,899 regular initial claims, down 1,297 (31%) from the previous week
  1. I’ve been waiting since April 1st..that’s 9 week in adjudication. I’ve recived no letters no calls and no one answering my call. I’ve got no money BARELY any food except from food banks, and less then 1/3 in my gas tank. How can they just leave people hanging for a yes ill get my benefits or no ill have to go back to work..ant news on my claim would be better then nothing at all. It been so frustrating I’m just ready to give up on believe any promises this government has been telling me.

  2. Ive been waiting 9 weeks I’ve been on virtual job fairs I’ve been on orientations I turned it all my claims for all the weeks I finally got into a hold of the unemployment people and they told me to keep filing and that I had a typo in my unemployment where I had hit that I was alien from another country and I forwarded the my driver’s license and social security number I’m supposed to be taken of this week . the only thing I can say keep filing at the end they will give you a lump sum for all the weeks that you have apply for an extra

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