Washington Employment Service Department website slowed by high-volume of visitors

ESD site flooded by users filing new or on-going unemployment claims

Having trouble filing your unemployment claim for the week? You’re not alone.

Over the weekend, the Employment Security Department updated its systems as the expansion of unemployment benefits from the recently passed CARES Act. But the roll out hasn’t gone as smoothly as hoped.

Although claims are processing properly, the sheer amount of visitors to the website on Sunday and Monday morning has resulted in some technical issues for those trying to input their weekly claims. Log-in requests have come back with site errors and navigating the website resulted in frequent interruptions for some.

The Washington ESD website saw over 500,000 page views per hour on Sunday and the department was still assisting folks with web issues on Monday.

“We apologize for the frustration this is causing and ask for Washingtonians’ patience as we roll out these programs,” ESD officials said in a press release. “We know people don’t want to have to wait further to get these benefits and are doing everything we can to improve the performance and access.”

A weekly claim for the prior week does not have to be filed on Sunday. It can be filed online anytime from the Sunday following the week through Saturday at 11:59 p.m. The ESD recommends trying to file online during “off hours.” Peak times are usually in the morning.

Jobless claims remained high for the week of April 5 through 11, the latest week with data available, though the total number of new claims continues to drop. In Kitsap, there were 3,905 new claims, down from 4,968 two weeks prior. New claims include individuals who filed first-time claims as well as additional claims filed by individuals as a result of a new unemployment event.

Washington as a whole saw 143,241 initial (third-highest weekly number on record) and 585,983 total claims (highest on record) for unemployment benefits during that time period.

“This past week, we provided more unemployment benefits in a single week than any other week in the history of Washington state’s program. More than a quarter of a million of our friends and neighbors received a total of $125 million last week alone. And, since the crisis began, the total has now topped a quarter billion dollars. But we know that many more are awaiting that same relief.” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine.

If you are having difficulty applying or filing weekly claims, the Employment Services Department has provided a few reminders:

  • You don’t have to apply on Sunday – it is not first come, first served and there is no risk to funds running out. You can apply anytime.
  • Payments are retroactive to your eligibility date. This means that, once you have successfully applied and backdated your start date, your first payment will be for all weeks for which you are eligible.
  • Weekly claims can be filed Sunday through Saturday every week. They can also be filed over the automated phone system at: 800-318-6022
  • E-services is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The busiest times tend to be in the morning. We recommend trying during off hours.
  • If you are having difficulty filing your application, please visit the help page.