Kitsap records small declines in unemployment claims the past 2 weeks

Initial claims fell for a second-consecutive week in Kitsap County after a small spike in weeks prior and declined slightly statewide as well, the latest numbers from the Employment Security Department say.

From July 19-25, the latest week for which numbers are available, there were 793 initial unemployment claims countywide, down from 826 the prior week.

Washington state saw 28,840 initial claims filed, down about 1.7 percent from the prior week, and 677,355 total claims in all benefit categories, up 0.6 percent.

King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties all saw small decreases in initial claims as well.

Initial claims remain at historic levels, though far below the peak of late March and early April. Since job losses began in the week ending March 7, the ESD has paid out over $8.7 billion in benefits and 2,338,445 initial claims have been filed. Over 1.4 million of those were for regular unemployment insurance, 461,407 were for pandemic unemployment assistance, and 401,251 were for pandemic emergency unemployment compensation. A total of 966,464 individuals have been paid.

“We continue to see employment uncertainty reflected in the unemployment numbers as initial regular claims fluctuate week to week,” ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said, adding they also experienced a notable change this week, as the additional $600 in federal benefits expired July 25.

“Unless Congress acts soon to extend or alter it, the loss of this additional benefit will create hardship for many individuals and families. While ESD administers this additional benefit, we do not have a say in whether it is extended. We are following the situation closely and will continue to update claimants if there are any changes.”

The industries with the highest number of initial claims last week were accommodation and food services (3,140 initial claims, up 5 percent); health care and social assistance (2,782, down 4 percent); retail trade (2,287 claims, down 2 percent); construction (2,235 claims, up 1 percent); and educational services (2,114 claims, up 56 percent).

ESD clears backlog

The ESD announced this week that it has resolved all claims that were included in its “Operation 100 percent” initiative, which sought to complete all individual applications submitted between March 8 and June 18 that had not been paid out.

The massive spike in unemployment claims in March created an unprecedented wave of applications, including an increase of 800 percent in a single week. The 1.5 million initial claims filed statewide during the week ending March 7 is the largest in state history. During the prior week, that number was 6,574.

There were 81,508 backlogged claims cleared.

“Getting benefits to all eligible Washingtonians has been, and continues to be, our agency’s top priority in this crisis,” LeVine said.

“As we turn the page on Operation 100% percent more than 81,500 individuals who had applied by mid-June and not received payment now have resolution on their claims. While clearing this initial backlog represents significant progress, and more than 900,000 individuals have received benefits since the crisis began, we know we still have a lot more work to do and a lot of trust to be regained as we move into the next phase of our response. There are still those who have applied since mid-June or had issues set on their weekly claims and need resolution.”