Initial unemployment claims see resurgence in early July

Initial unemployment claims continued somewhat of a resurgence for the week of July 5 through July 11, the most recent week for which data is available.

Kitsap’s number of initial claims jumped up to 1,139, which is the highest number in the past two months, though significantly lower than the spike in claims that happened between mid-March and mid-May.

That increase mirrored statewide numbers, which saw a total of 40,466 initial regular unemployment claims in the same week, which was up 42.5 percent from the prior week. Total claims for all unemployment benefit categories were actually about 4.1 percent lower than the previous week.

The state’s five largest counties — King, Pierce Snohomish, Spokane and Clark, all saw 32 to 43 percent increases as well.

The overall picture does look a little rosier; Washington added 71,000 jobs in June and the state’s monthly unemployment rate — adjusted for the season — fell from 15.1 percent to 9.8 percent, according to the Employment Security Department. That drop is the biggest month-to-month decrease on record going back to at least 1990.

“The gain in nonfarm payroll employment coupled with the revision to May’s job gains are a welcome surprise and another step in the right direction,” said Paul Turek, economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department. “That said, the road ahead looks to be bumpy as the virus continues to spread, creating a less predictable situation for the economy reopening.”

A total of 2,283,609 initial claims have been filed since the pandemic began (the week ending March 7) — 1,438,620 were for regular unemployment insurance, 453,085 were for pandemic unemployment assistance and 391,692 were for pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.

The Employment Security Department has paid out over $7.6 billion in benefits and 920,153 individuals who have filed an initial claim have been paid.

The unemployment landscape could change drastically over the next two weeks. The additional $600 per week available under the federal CARES Act is set to run out after July 25. Congress could choose to extend those Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits, but it has not yet done so.

The industries experiencing the most initial claims for the week of July 5 through July 11 were accommodation and food service (4,534 claims, up 47 percent); health care and social assistance (3,385 claims, up 10 percent); retail trade (3,023 claims, up 36 percent); manufacturing (2,952 claims, up 13 percent); and construction (2,726 claims, up 25 percent).

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