Initial unemployment claims fall after spike the previous week

Initial unemployment claims came back to Earth Oct. 11-17 after a spike the prior week.

Kitsap County recorded 417 new initial claims, down from 585 the previous week, which is more in line with both the county and state’s claim numbers during September and October.

Across the state, regular initial claims were down 24.3 percent from the prior week in the week ending Oct. 17, the most recent week for which data is available. There were 16,890 initial claims and 491,241 claims for all unemployment benefit categories, which was up 3 percent from the previous week.

The state’s largest counties also fell by double-digits. King County had a decrease of 27 percent in initial claims from the prior week; Snohomish County was down 32 percent; Spokane County was down 30 percent; Clark County was down 27 percent; and Pierce County was down 19 percent;

Initial claims levels are still elevated; 172 percent above the corresponding week in 2019. The Employment Security Department paid out $149 million for 310,901 claims. Since March, the ESD had paid over $11.8 billion in benefits to the residents of Washington.

The industry sectors with the highest number of initial claims were construction (1,926 claims, up 15 percent); accommodation and food services (1,718 claims, down 23 percent); manufacturing (1,349 claims, down 20 percent); health care and social assistance (1,331 claims, down 13 percent); and retail trade (1,224, down 26 percent).

Occupations seeing the largest number of initial claims were construction and extraction (2,182 claims, up 4 percent); management (1,894 claims, down 25 percent); food preparation and serving (1,732, down 27 percent); transportation and material moving occupations (1,415 claims, down 26 percent); and office and administrative support (1,347 claims, down 24 percent).