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Employment Security Department

Email media inquiries:  media@esd.wa.gov  

Initial and continued unemployment claims for regular benefits increased slightly during the week of February 14 – 20

OLYMPIA – During the week of February 14 - 20, there were 14,043 initial regular unemployment claims (up 3.2 percent from the prior week) and 462,218 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (up 3.3 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).  

  • Initial regular claims applications remain at elevated levels and are at 155 percent above last year’s weekly new claims applications.
  • Initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) decreased over the week while initial and continued claims for regular benefits increased over the week.
  • Increases in layoffs in Construction, Agriculture and Accommodation & Food Services led the overall increase in regular initial claims last week. Regular initial claims in the Construction sector increased by 422 initial claims over the week to 2,766 total regular initial claims. Washington was one of 12 states that had increases in initial claims during the week ending Feb. 20.

In the week ending February 20, ESD paid out over $249 million for 315,508 individual claims. Since the crisis began in March, ESD has paid more than $15 billion in benefits to over a million Washingtonians.

Unemployment claim type

Week of

February 14- February 20

Week of

February 7- February 13

Week of

January 31- February 6

Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) initial claims




Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims




Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) initial claims




Continued/ongoing weekly claims




Total claims




Note: Detailed claims data and charts by county, industry and occupation will be included in this release on a monthly basis. You can find detailed claims data anytime on the ESD website.

Below is a fifty-one week summary of statewide initial claims filed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis:

For complete information of weekly initial claims by industry sector and county for the year to date, also check the weekly unemployment initial claims charts compiled by ESD’s Labor Market & Economic Analysis division. For more information about specific counties, contact one of ESD’s regional local economists.

ESD will send out the next weekly new claims press release on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

Data disclaimer and definitions

Per U.S. Department of Labor regulations, weekly unemployment claims data is embargoed and not available for release until the Thursday following the claim week. 

Initial claims include individuals who filed first-time claims as well as additional claims filed by individuals as a result of a new unemployment event. Initial claims include claims that are still being reviewed for eligibility. Counts for initial claims are not indicative of the number of claims that will result in monetary compensation.

Continuing claims equal continued weeks claimed including a total of all weeks for which benefits were claimed, even though such benefits were not paid or payment status is uncertain or unknown, e.g., waiting weeks, partial weeks, weeks for which penalties are being served and weeks for which a monetary or nonmonetary issue is pending. 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is an emergency program established by the federal CARES Act that temporarily expands unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is an emergency program established by the federal CARES Act that extends unemployment insurance for an extra 13 weeks to those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits.

COVID-19 resources

Washington state Employment Security Department unemployment insurance information for workers and employers

State of Washington’s coronavirus website

Washington state Department of Health public health resources

Labor market web links

Find a regional economist