Initial jobless claims take huge drop

Initial unemployment claims continued to fall locally and statewide as the calendar flipped to October.

Kitsap County recorded 369 new initial claims for the week ending Oct. 3, the most recent week for which data was available — the lowest tally since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

At the same time, initial claims also fell in Washington state. There were 15,496 initial regular unemployment claims, which is down 12.6 percent from the previous week, and 506,708 total unemployment claims for all benefits categories, down 4.5 percent, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The state’s five biggest counties drove that decline. Clark County saw a 29 percent decrease in initial claims from the prior week, while Spokane (19 percent), Pierce (13 percent) and Snohomish (12 percent) all saw double-digit drops. King County had a decrease of nine percent.

Initial claims are still at elevated levels — 157 percent above the same week in 2019.

The only benefits category that saw increased claims is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which is offered to folks who have reached the end of their regular benefits.

In all, the ESD paid over $162 million for 328,216 individuals claims.

The industry sectors with the highest number of initial claims for the week were accommodation and food services (1,824 claims, down 14 percent); construction (1,644 claims, down 11 percent); health care and social assistance (1,293 claims, down 8 percent); and manufacturing (1,077 claims, down 13 percent).

The specific occupations with the most initial claims were food preparation and serving (1,901 claims, down 15 percent); management (1,817 claims, down 6 percent); construction and extraction (1,809 claims, down 34 percent); office and administrative support (1,356 claims, down 10 percent); and transportation and material moving (1,222 claims, down 9 percent).