Unemployment claims were down both locally and statewide during the final full week of September.
During the week of Sept. 20-26, the most recent week for which data is available, Kitsap County had just 452 initial unemployment claims, the lowest number recorded since the pandemic began in early March.
There were 17,734 initial claims statewide, down 9.4 percent from the prior week, and 530,360 claims for all benefits categories, which was also down — 1.8 percent — from the prior week, according to the Employment Security Department. Claims for all benefits categories saw a decrease.
Of course, initial claims are still at extremely high levels — 237 percent above the same week in 2019.
The statewide drop was driven by decreases in initial claims in Washington’s five largest counties. King County was down eight percent, while Pierce County saw an 11 percent drop. Snohomish, Clark and Spokane counties all had single-digit decreases as well.
The industries with the highest number of initial claims were construction (2,468 claims, down 14 percent); accommodation and food services (2,162 claims, down 4 percent); retail trade (1,461 claims, down 2 percent); health care and social assistance (1,409 claims, down 14 percent); and manufacturing (1,231 claims, down 2 percent).
ESD makes Lost Wages Assistance payments
Money from the federal government’s Lost Wages Assistance program has gone out. More than $625 million was paid to residents who received unemployment benefits during a six-week period in July and August. The payments accounted for a large portion of the $775 million in benefits to 424,789 claimants paid out by the ESD during the week ending Sept. 26.
“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,” ESD commissioner Suzi LeVine said.