Unemployment claims fall, but still elevated after restrictions

Initial unemployment claims leveled out somewhat in the final full week of November, but remained higher than the weeks before the governor’s office reimplemented COVID-19 restrictions.

There were a total of 22,334 initial regular unemployment claims during the week ending Nov. 28, the most recent week for which data is available. That number is down 26.2% from the prior week, in which there was a large spike in initial claims, but it is still 184% above the same week in 2019.

Initial claims in Kitsap County fell as well, down to 635 for the week ending Nov. 28 from 868 the prior week.

The state’s five largest counties — King, Pierce, Snohomish, Clark and Spokane — all saw initial claims decreases of more than 20%. King County was down 20%, while Snohmoish and Pierce were down 25% and Spokane and Clark were down 32%.

A total of 459,681 claims for all unemployment benefit categories were filed the same week across the state, which is a decrease of 1.1 %.

Impacts from the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions began showing up in job data last week, and there was a significant spike in areas such as accommodation and food services and the arts, entertainment and recreations sectors as these were most affected by the restrictions. The drop in initial claims in the week ending Nov. 28 shows a leveling out in those sectors.

The industry sectors with the most initial claims were accommodation and food services (6,057 claims, down 31%); construction (3,008 claims, down 3%); manufacturing (1,610 claims, down 12%); retail trade (1,398 claims, down 34%); health care and social assistance (1,273 claims, down 29%).

The occupations with the highest number of initial claims were food preparation and serving (6,454 claims, down 34%); construction and extraction (3,078 claims, down 5%); management (2,063 claims, down 25%); transportation and material moving (1,379 claims, down 16%); office and administrative support (1,262 claims, down 33%).