Initial statewide unemployment claims were up in the week preceding Labor Day in Washington while total claims were down as the state economy tries to make a push toward getting back to pre-pandemic levels.
Locally, there were 598 initial unemployment claims in Kitsap County — a second consecutive week with an increase after the county reached a pandemic-low 477 back in the week ending Aug. 22. It remains to be seen what affect the news will have now that several school districts in the county have hundreds of employees already on or facing the possibility of furlough.
In July, the unemployment rate in Kitsap was 9.5 percent (numbers are not seasonally adjusted). August numbers are expected to be released from the Employment Security Department by next week.
In Washington, there were 20,006 initial unemployment claims for the week ending Sept. 5, up 10.1 percent from the prior week. There were 531,425 total claims for every unemployment category, which is down 6.5 percent from the previous week. Year-over-year, initial claims are 299 percent higher than the same week in 2019.
The spike was caused by new claims for all three unemployment categories — regular unemployment insurance, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation and pandemic unemployment assistance — while regular continuing claims have decreased. The state’s five largest counties — King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Clark — all saw increases as well.
The industry sectors with the highest number of initial claims were educational services (2,601, up 56 percent); accommodation and food services (2,005, up 2 percent); construction (1,790, up 10 percent); health care and social assistance (1,740, up 4 percent); and manufacturing (1,681, up 22 percent).
Lost Wages Assistance deadline is Sept. 20
If you have been receiving unemployment, there should be a certification question in your Washington ESD eServices account regarding the federal government’s Lost Wages Assistance program, which will provide an additional $300 per week for a three-week period to those who are receiving unemployment benefits and have lost work due to COVID-19.
Instructions will be mailed for those who are enrolled in paper correspondence. The deadline to certify is Sept. 20. Approved applicants will receive the payments — retroactive to the time period covering July 25 to Aug. 16 — beginning Sept. 21.