Initial jobless claims fall 8.4%

Initial unemployment claims fell during the first full week of January, but unemployment claims as a whole remain high as a spike in December has carried over to the new year.

There were a total of 27,147 initial regular unemployment claims the week of Jan. 3-9, down 8.4 percent from the previous week. There were 515,561 claims for all unemployment categories, down 7.5 percent from the prior week, according to the Employment Security Department.

In Kitsap County, there werer 764 initial unemployment claims, up from the 721 the previous week. The state’s largest counties — King, Snohomish, Spokane, Clark and Pierce — all recorded declines. Overall, initial claims statewide are still 203 percent above the same week in 2019.

There were decreases in the seasonal layoffs that had driven large unemployment increases in the construction and agriculture industries; most of the industries with the highest unemployment saw at least a small decline last week. The construction industry saw about a 35 percent decrease in initial claims, though it still had the highest number of claims of all industry sectors in the state.

The industy sectors with the highest number of initial claims were construction (3,199 claims, down 1,742); accommodation and food services (2,701 claims, down 395); retail trade (2,256 claims, up 26); health care and social assistance (1,891 claims, down 317); administrative and support and waste management and remediation services (1,632 claims, down 315); and manufacturing (1,544 claims, down 547).

The ESD paid over $146.8 million for 310,021 claims in Washington in the week ending Jan. 9. Since the pandemic began in March, over $13.5 billion in benefits has been paid out to over one million Washington residents.